Thyroid cancer and COVID-19: experience at one single thyroid disease referral center

Endocrine. 2021 May;72(2):332-339. doi: 10.1007/s12020-021-02650-z. Epub 2021 Feb 27.


Purpose: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-Cov-2) is challenging health systems all over the world. Cancer patients have a higher risk of being infected by SARS-Cov-2 and higher coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) severity and mortality. Up to date, there were no data about COVID-19 in patients with thyroid cancer (TCs). The aim of the study was to describe the prevalence of COVID-19 in a well-characterized series of TC patients evaluated for the persistence of the neoplastic disease from March to September 2020; as secondary objective, we looked for the COVID-19 disease severity in a subgroup of multimetastatic TC patients.

Methods: We evaluated 1464 patients affected by persistent TC: 67 patients who were taking multikinase inhibitors (MKIs) and 1397 under active surveillance for a persistent but stable disease. During the clinical evaluation, all patients were specifically investigated about a positive history of Sars-Cov-2 infection.

Results: SARS-Cov-2 infection was identified in 4/1464 (0.3%) cases of patients affected by TC. We identified three cases among patients under active surveillance (0.2%), and one case among patients treated with MKI systemic therapy (1/67, 1.5%). This patient was taking vandetanib for metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), when he came to our attention referring severe fatigue, dyspnea for light physical activities. He presented a mild COVID-19 and he received exclusively supportive care. After a multidisciplinary consultation, we decided against the discontinuation of vandetanib. After 2 months from the infection, he did not present any signs of active infection, and the MTC metastatic disease was stable.

Conclusions: We showed that COVID-19 is not more frequent in TC patients than in general population, although a relatively higher prevalence in the group of TC patients treated with MKIs. A single patient with advanced TC and SARS-Cov-2 infection during MKIs treatment had a mild COVID-19 and did not require the discontinuation of MKI therapy. In cases of more severe COVID-19, an accurate evaluation from a multidisciplinary team would consider risks and benefits in taking the decision to continue or stop MKI treatment.

Keywords: COVID-19; CYP3A4; Multikinase inhibitors; QT prolongation; Thyroid cancer.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Referral and Consultation
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Thyroid Diseases*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / epidemiology