Treatment and surveillance of advanced, metastatic iodine-resistant differentiated thyroid cancer

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Purpose of review

This review will focus on the management and treatment of metastatic thyroid cancer that is radioactive iodine refractory and review the new drugs and their mechanism of actions as well as their adverse events.

Recent findings

Until recently, there were no efficacious therapeutic modalities for these patients. With advancement in knowledge and research of the molecular aberrations and oncogenic mutations in thyroid cancer as well as further understanding the role of angiogenesis in tumor growth molecular pathogenesis, novel targeted therapies are available for these patients. Some of these drugs have successfully prolonged progression free survival and are now Food and Drug Administration approved. Additional agents are approved for the treatment of other types of cancers and are currently under investigation for differentiated thyroid cancer treatment.


Differentiated thyroid cancer (papillary and follicular) is the most common endocrine malignancy. It is generally known to have an excellent prognosis and patients are usually cured with the conventional primary treatments including surgery, radioactive iodine, and thyroid stimulating hormone suppression. A minor proportion of patients do not fully recover mainly because they develop radioactive iodine-resistant disease. These patients have few treatment options, which we aimed to describe here.

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