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The treatment landscape in thyroid cancer: a focus on cabozantinib

Authors Weitzman S, Cabanillas M

Received 25 April 2015

Accepted for publication 8 July 2015

Published 19 August 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 265—278

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CMAR.S68373

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Kenan Onel


Steven P Weitzman, Maria E Cabanillas

Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

Abstract: Although patients with thyroid cancer generally fare well, there is a subset for which this is not necessarily true. Progress in understanding the molecular aberrations in thyroid cancer has led to a change in the management of these cases. Since 2011, four multikinase inhibitors (MKIs) have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for thyroid cancer – cabozantinib and vandetanib for medullary thyroid cancer and sorafenib and lenvatinib for differentiated thyroid cancer. This change in the treatment landscape has raised challenges for practitioners who may not be familiar with the use of MKIs or with the treatment and natural history of advanced thyroid cancer in general. This article reviews the epidemiology, molecular drivers, and initial treatment of patients with thyroid cancer and offers practical guidance to assist with the determination of when to appropriately start an MKI. As an example, cabozantinib and its efficacy are discussed in detail. Close monitoring is required for all patients on targeted agents to assess for adverse effects and response to therapy. An approach to managing drug-related adverse events is detailed. Since these drugs are not curative and have not yet proven to prolong overall survival, it is critical to weigh the risks and benefits of treatment at every visit. The potential value of changing to a different agent following failure of an MKI is also addressed.

Keywords: chemotherapy, adverse event, targeted therapy, kinase inhibitor, VEGF, RET

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