Medullary thyroid cancer

Curr Treat Options Oncol. 2000 Oct;1(4):359-67. doi: 10.1007/s11864-000-0052-7.


Patients with clinically evident medullary thyroid cancer should have a total extracapsular thyroidectomy with bilateral central neck dissection and an ipsilateral prophylactic or therapeutic modified (functional) radical neck dissection when the primary tumor is greater than 1 cm and when the central neck nodes are positive. A prophylactic contralateral neck dissection should be done when the primary tumor is bilateral and when there is extensive lymphadenopathy on the side of the primary tumor. Patients who have gross, unresectable residual medullary thyroid cancer should receive postoperative external radiotherapy. Patients who are carriers of germ-line RET proto-oncogene point mutations or have an elevated (basal or stimulated) calcitonin levels on screening should have a prophylactic total thyroidectomy before age 6 years. In patients with an elevated basal or stimulated plasma calcitonin level and an intrathyroidal nodule on ultrasound, a total thyroidectomy and central neck lymph node dissection should be done. Patients with persistent or recurrent medullary thyroid cancer should have a complete thyroidectomy (if not done initially) and bilateral central and modified radical neck dissection, including upper mediastinal lymphadenectomy. Patients who are symptomatic from distant medullary thyroid cancer metastases (diarrhea, flushing, weight loss, or bone pain) should be treated with somatostatin analogs. Bone metastases should be resected if possible, and symptomatic lesions that are unresectable should be treated with external radiotherapy. Cytoreductive procedures such as radiofrequency ablation or cryoablation for liver metastases should be considered in symptomatic patients to reduce tumor burden. Localized pulmonary metastases should be resected. Chemotherapy or radioactive immunotherapy (iodine 131 labeled carcinoembryonic antigen monoclonal antibody) protocols should be considered in patients with nonoperative widely metastatic progressing medullary thyroid cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / surgery*
  • Carcinoma, Medullary / therapy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / pathology
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / surgery
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy
  • Prognosis
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Survival Rate
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / therapy
  • Thyroidectomy


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • MAS1 protein, human
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas