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J Thyroid Res. 2011;2011:815826. doi: 10.4061/2011/815826. Epub 2011 May 16.

Medullary thyroid carcinoma: molecular signaling pathways and emerging therapies.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology, Hospital San Juan de Dios, Avenida 14, Calles 6 Y 7 Paseo Colon, 1475-1000 San José, Costa Rica.


Research on medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) over the last 55 years has led to a good understanding of the genetic defects and altered molecular pathways associated with its development. Currently, with the use of genetic testing, patients at high risk for MTC can be identified before the disease develops and offered prophylactic treatment. In cases of localized neck disease, surgery can be curative. However, once MTC has spread beyond the neck, systemic therapy may be necessary. Conventional chemotherapy has been shown to be ineffective; however, multikinase inhibitors have shown promise in stabilizing disease, and this year will probably see the approval of a drug (Vandetanib) for advanced unresectable or metastatic disease, which represents a new chapter in the history of MTC. In this paper, we explore newly understood molecular pathways and the most promising emerging therapies that may change the management of MTC.

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