Treatment with tyrosine kinase inhibitors for patients with differentiated thyroid cancer: The M. D. Anderson experience

Maria E. Cabanillas, Steven G. Waguespack, Yulia Bronstein, Michelle D. Williams, Lei Feng, Mike Hernandez, Adriana Lopez, Steven I. Sherman, Naifa L. Busaidy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

166 Scopus citations


Objectives: Until recently, treatment options for patients with progressive, radioactive iodineresistant differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) have been limited. In our clinical practice, we have begun to use sorafenib and sunitinib for patients with progressive DTC who are not able or willing to participate in clinical trials. In this paper, we describe the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center's experience with the off-label use of these tyrosine kinase inhibitors for DTC. Methods: Adult patientswereincluded if theyhada diagnosis of radioactive iodine-refractory DTC, were treated with single agent sorafenib or sunitinib, and had both baseline and at least one follow-up scan for restaging purposes. All imaging data were collected, as well as the TSH-suppressed thyroglobulin (Tg) levels corresponding to each scan date. The primary endpoints were radiographic response and progression-free survival (PFS). Secondary objectives were tissue-specific radiographic responses and correlation of Tg with overall response. Results: We identified 33 patients from our clinical database. Fifteen patients (nine women, six men) met inclusion criteria, with a median age of 61 yr (range, 38-83 yr). Eight patients had papillary and seven had follicular thyroid carcinoma. Sorafenib was used in 13 and sunitinib in two, including one patient who failed prior sorafenib therapy. All patients had evidence of progressive disease (PD) before start of therapy, with a median PFS of only 4 months. Best response in target lesions was: partial response (PR) in three (20%), stable disease (SD) in nine (60%), and PD in three (20%). Clinical benefit (PR+SD) was 80%. The sunitinib patient previously refractory to sorafenib had a 38% reduction in tumor size. The most noticeable organ-specific response was observed in lung (median change, -22%) compared to lymph nodes (median change, 0%). Pleural disease and nonirradiated bone metastases demonstrated PD. All histological subtypes had similar responses. The median PFS was 19 months. The median overall survival has not yet been reached, but at 2 yr of follow-up, overall survival is 67%. Log Tg correlated with radiographic response (P = 0.0005). Conclusions: Sorafenib and sunitinib appear to be effective in patients with widely metastatic, progressive DTC, with most patients achieving SD or PR, despite having PD at baseline.Themostnoticeable responses occurred in the lungs in contrast with minimal changes in nodal metastases and PD in pleural and nonirradiated bone metastases, suggesting a tissue-specific response to therapy. Log Tg significantly correlated with response to treatment and therefore may have value as a surrogate marker of response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2588-2595
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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