Molecular Markers Guiding Thyroid Cancer Management

Cancers (Basel). 2020 Aug 4;12(8):2164. doi: 10.3390/cancers12082164.


The incidence of thyroid cancer is rapidly increasing, mostly due to the overdiagnosis and overtreatment of differentiated thyroid cancer (TC). The increasing use of potent preclinical models, high throughput molecular technologies, and gene expression microarrays have provided a deeper understanding of molecular characteristics in cancer. Hence, molecular markers have become a potent tool also in TC management to distinguish benign from malignant lesions, predict aggressive biology, prognosis, recurrence, as well as for identification of novel therapeutic targets. In differentiated TC, molecular markers are mainly used as an adjunct to guide management of indeterminate nodules on fine needle aspiration biopsies. In contrast, in advanced thyroid cancer, molecular markers enable targeted treatments of affected signalling pathways. Identification of the driver mutation of targetable kinases in advanced TC can select treatment with mutation targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) to slow growth and reverse adverse effects of the mutations, when traditional treatments fail. This review will outline the molecular landscape and discuss the impact of molecular markers on diagnosis, surveillance and treatment of differentiated, poorly differentiated and anaplastic follicular TC.

Keywords: Genomics; indeterminate nodules; molecular testing; personalized medicine; surgery; targeted therapy; thyroid cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Publication types

  • Review