Targeted therapies in thyroid cancer: an extensive review of the literature

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2016 Oct;9(10):1299-1313. doi: 10.1080/17512433.2016.1204230. Epub 2016 Jul 15.


Patients with progressive, metastatic, RAI-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC), as well as patients with advanced medullary (MTC) and anaplastic thyroid cancer represent a cohort for which therapeutic options are limited. The recent discoveries in the molecular mechanisms implicated in TC have provided insight of the pathogenesis and progression of disease. In that respect, targeted therapies have emerged as a promising alternative for the treatment of those patients. Areas covered: Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs) have been studied extensively in TC: sorafenib and lenvatinib have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic, RAI-refractory DTC, while vandetanib and cabozantinib are FDA approved for use in advanced MTC. Moreover, several additional TKIs, multi-targeted or specific, are currently under investigation in TC. The current manuscript provides an extensive review of the literature regarding targeted therapies in TC including the rationale behind their use, the clinical trials and an expert opinion on their use. Literature in English appearing at PubMed was thoroughly reviewed, especially manuscripts of the last 5 years. Expert commentary: Patients with advanced, progressive, metastatic TC should be evaluated for enrollment in a clinical trial or should be placed on treatment with one of the FDA- and EMA- approved agents.

Keywords: TKI; anaplastic thyroid cancer; cabozantinib; differentiated thyroid cancer; lenvatinib; medullary thyroid cancer; sorafenib; thyroid cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; vandetanib.