Medullary Thyroid Cancer
External radiation therapy has been used for palliation of locally recurrent tumors; however, no evidence exists that it provides any survival advantage. Radioactive iodine has no place in the treatment of patients with MTC.
Treatment options for locally advanced and metastatic disease:
Vandetanib is an oral inhibitor of RET kinase, vascular endothelial growth-factor receptor, and epidermal growth-factor receptor signaling. It was tested in a placebo-controlled, prospective trial (NCT00410761) in 331 patients with locally advanced and metastatic disease with a 2:1 ratio in assignment to the study drug. With a median follow-up of 24 months, progression-free survival (PFS) favored vandetanib (hazard ratio = 0.46; 95% confidence interval, 0.31–0.69; P < .001) with a median PFS estimated at 30.5 months for vandetanib versus 19.3 months for placebo.[Level of evidence: 1iiDiii]
Overall survival (OS) was not different at 24 months; longer follow-up will be required since only 47 patients had died at the time of analysis, and there was a crossover to the study drug on progression from placebo, making analysis of OS problematic. Vandetanib has significant side effects, including diarrhea, rash, hypertension, and QT prolongation. Quality of life was not formally assessed in this trial.
Palliative chemotherapy has been reported to produce occasional responses in patients with metastatic disease.[10,11,12,13] No single drug regimen can be considered standard. Some patients with distant metastases will experience prolonged survival and can be managed expectantly until they become symptomatic.
Current Clinical Trials
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with thyroid gland medullary carcinoma. The list of clinical trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
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