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An update on clinical trials of targeted therapies in thyroid cancer

Haraldsdottir, Sigurdis; Shah, Manisha H.

Current Opinion in Oncology:
doi: 10.1097/CCO.0000000000000029
ENDOCRINE TUMORS: Edited by Julie Ann Sosa

Purpose of review: Several new targeted therapies with multikinase inhibitors targeting vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), rearranged during transfection and v-raf murine sarcoma viral oncogene homolog B1 pathways have been tested in clinical trials for radioiodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) and medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) in the past 10 years.

Recent findings: Results of the first phase III trial of VEGF-targeted therapy (sorafenib) in DTC were presented in June 2013, and two phase III trials with VEGF and rearranged during transfection-targeted therapies (vandetanib and cabozantinib) in MTC have led to approval by US Food and Drug Administration in the past 2 years. Whereas such therapies increase median progression-free survival compared to placebo, there is no therapy proven to improve overall survival yet. Significant potential adverse event risks associated with such therapies need to be recognized. Dissemination of knowledge about targeted therapies is critical for various medical specialists as patient care for thyroid cancers is best delivered in a multidisciplinary setting.

Summary: Successful development of targeted systemic therapies in DTC and MTC in the past 5 years is incredibly exciting in the field and patients with advanced DTC/MTC now have new standard-of-care therapy options.

Author Information

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Correspondence to Manisha H. Shah, MD, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, A438 Starling-Loving Hall, 320 West 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA. Tel: +1 614 293 4680; fax: +1 614 293 7529; e-mail:

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.