Thyroid cancer is the most common endocrine malignancy. Differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) with the two subtypes, papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) and follicular thyroid cancer (FTC), is the most frequent subtype of thyroid cancer; more rare subtypes are medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) and anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC). The incidence of DTC has increased rapidly in recent years due to the more frequent use of imaging methods such as ultrasound of the neck and fine-needle aspiration (FNA) of thyroid nodules. After total thyroidectomy and radioiodine treatment, DTC remains an indolent and curable disease in most patients, whereas the cure rate in MTC is lower and depends on early diagnosis. Most ATCs are incurable. In recent years, there has been great progress in identifying genetic changes in thyroid cancer, and genetic testing of FNA samples or blood samples provides useful information for clinical decision making. Tumor staging, either postoperatively or by imaging, and measuring the tumor markers thyroglobulin for DTC and calcitonin for MTC, allow for dynamic risk-adapted stratification for follow-up procedures. In advanced metastatic thyroid cancer, molecular targeted therapy using tyrosine kinase receptor inhibitors, including sorafenib, lenvantinib, vandetanib, and cabozantinib, helps control tumor progression and prolongs progression-free survival. Using a dynamic risk-stratified approach to manage thyroid cancer, the outcomes for most thyroid cancer patients are excellent compared with those for other cancers. The major challenge in the future is to identify high-risk patients and to treat and monitor them appropriately. Clin Cancer Res; 22(20); 5012–21. ©2016 AACR.
See all articles in this CCR Focus section, “Endocrine Cancers: Revising Paradigms.”
Note: F. Raue and K. Frank-Raue share senior authorship.
- Received May 9, 2016.
- Revision received August 22, 2016.
- Accepted August 24, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.