Selumetinib Plus Adjuvant Radioactive Iodine in Patients With High-Risk Differentiated Thyroid Cancer: A Phase III, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial (ASTRA)

J Clin Oncol. 2022 Jun 10;40(17):1870-1878. doi: 10.1200/JCO.21.00714. Epub 2022 Feb 22.


Purpose: Selumetinib can increase radioactive iodine (RAI) avidity in RAI-refractory tumors. We investigated whether selumetinib plus adjuvant RAI improves complete remission (CR) rates in patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) at high risk of primary treatment failure versus RAI alone.

Methods: ASTRA ( identifier: NCT01843062) is an international, phase III, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. Patients with DTC at high risk of primary treatment failure (primary tumor > 4 cm; gross extrathyroidal extension outside the thyroid gland [T4 disease]; or N1a/N1b disease with ≥ 1 metastatic lymph node(s) ≥ 1 cm or ≥ 5 lymph nodes [any size]) were randomly assigned 2:1 to selumetinib 75 mg orally twice daily or placebo for approximately 5 weeks (no stratification). On treatment days 29-31, recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone (0.9 mg)-stimulated RAI (131I; 100 mCi/3.7 GBq) was administered, followed by 5 days of selumetinib/placebo. The primary end point (CR rate 18 months after RAI) was assessed in the intention-to-treat population.

Results: Four hundred patients were enrolled (August 27, 2013-March 23, 2016) and 233 randomly assigned (selumetinib, n = 155 [67%]; placebo, n = 78 [33%]). No statistically significant difference in CR rate 18 months after RAI was observed (selumetinib n = 62 [40%]; placebo n = 30 [38%]; odds ratio 1.07 [95% CI, 0.61 to 1.87]; P = .8205). Treatment-related grade ≥ 3 adverse events were reported in 25/154 patients (16%) with selumetinib and none with placebo. The most common adverse event with selumetinib was dermatitis acneiform (n = 11 [7%]). No treatment-related deaths were reported.

Conclusion: Postoperative pathologic risk stratification identified patients with DTC at high risk of primary treatment failure, although the addition of selumetinib to adjuvant RAI failed to improve the CR rate for these patients. Future strategies should focus on tumor genotype-tailored drug selection and maintaining drug dosing to optimize RAI efficacy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase III
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma* / drug therapy
  • Benzimidazoles / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Iodine Radioisotopes / adverse effects
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / radiotherapy


  • AZD 6244
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Iodine Radioisotopes

Associated data