Targeted therapy: A new hope for thyroid carcinomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thyroid carcinomas are rare and heterogeneous diseases representing less than 1% of all malignancies. The majority of thyroid carcinomas are differentiated entities (papillary and folliculary carcinomas) and are characterized by good prognosis and good response to surgery and radioiodine therapy. Nevertheless, about 10% of differentiated carcinomas recur and become resistant to all therapies. Anaplastic and medullary cancers are rare subtypes of thyroid cancer not suitable for radioiodine therapy.A small percentage of differentiated and all the anaplastic and medullary thyroid carcinomas often recur after primary treatments and are no longer suitable for other therapies. In the last years, several advances have been made in the field of molecular biology and tumorigenesis mechanisms of thyroid carcinomas. Starting from these issues, the targeted therapy may be employed as a new option. The MAP-Kinase pathway has been found often dysregulated in thyroid carcinomas and several upstream signals have been recognized as responsible for this feature. RET/PTC mutations are often discovered both in papillary and in medullary carcinomas, while B-RAF mutation is typical of papillary and anaplastic histologies. Also mTOR disruptions and VEGFR pathway disruption are common features in all advanced thyroid cancers.Some angiogenesis inhibitors and a number of RET/PTC pathway blocking agents are yet present in the clinical armamentarium. Vandetanib, cabozatinib and sorafenib have reached clinical use. A number of other biological compounds have been tested in phase II and III trials.Understanding the biology of thyroid cancers may help us to design a well shaped targeted therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Anaplastic
  • Follicular
  • Medullary
  • Papillary
  • Pathway
  • Radioiodine therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Thyroid carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Hematology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Medicine(all)


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