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Br J Cancer. 2008 Aug 5;99(3):448-54. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604497.

The clinical implications of sunitinib-induced hypothyroidism: a prospective evaluation.

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  • 1Department of General Medical Oncology, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Catholic University Leuven, Leuven Cancer Institute, Herestraat 49, Leuven B-3000, Belgium.


Sunitinib is approved for the treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma (RCC) and imatinib-resistant or -intolerant gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GIST). Several studies have identified unexpected rates of thyroid dysfunction with sunitinib treatment. We performed a prospective observational study with the aim of more accurately defining the incidence and severity of hypothyroidism in RCC or GIST patients receiving sunitinib. Thyroid function was assessed at baseline and on days 1 and 28 of each treatment cycle. Thyroid antibodies were assessed at baseline and during follow-up if abnormal thyroid function tests were recorded. Sixteen patients (27%) developed sub- or clinical hypothyroidism and required hormone replacement and 20 patients (34%) showed at least one elevated thyroid-stimulating hormone not requiring therapeutic intervention. Twenty patients (34%) did not develop any biochemical thyroid abnormality. Thus, sunitinib can induce (sub-) clinical hypothyroidism, warranting close monitoring of thyroid function. We propose a new algorithm for managing this side effect in clinical practise.

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