Target Therapy Sutent® Promising in Advanced Thyroid Cancer

The targeted therapy Sutent® (sunitinib) appears effective in the treatment of patients with advanced differentiated thyroid cancers. The Endocrine Society announced these Phase II trial findings in a press release. Study results were also presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego, March 5–8, 2015.

Differentiated thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer and can often be cured with surgery and radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment. In some cases, however, the cancer is resistant to RAI. RAI-resistant thyroid cancers have had few effective treatment options.

Sutent is a targeted therapy that is approved for the treatment of several cancers. It works by inhibiting multiple proteins in cancer cells to limit cancer cell growth and division.

According to findings from a Phase II clinical trial, Sutent showed promise as treatment in addition to RAI in patients with advanced thyroid cancer. The study included 23 patients who had undergone at least one round of treatment with radioactive iodine.

Patients survived without cancer progression for a median of about eight months. These outcomes were compared with those of patients in another recent study who received a placebo (inactive substitute). The patients given placebo lived without cancer progression for a much shorter time than those given Sutent. In addition, progression-free survival with Sutent was similar to that of Nexavar® (sorafenib), which is approved for the treatment of differentiated thyroid cancer.

Of the patients who received Sutent, 83% benefited from the treatment. Benefits included shrinking of tumors (partial response) among 26% and slowing disease progression (stable disease) among 57%.

Sutent was generally well tolerated. Side effects tended to be mild or moderate.

Though the researchers determined that Sutent was not a cure for advanced thyroid cancer, they concluded that it might slow progression of the disease. They added that these findings justify further study in a Phase III trial of Sutent in advanced thyroid cancer.

Reference: Advanced Thyroid Cancer Responds to Targeted Therapy with Sunitinib [press release]. Endocrine Society website. Available at: Accessed May 11, 2015

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