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Onco Targets Ther. 2009 Jan 1;1:87-101.

Recombinant human thyroid stimulating hormone in 2008: focus on thyroid cancer management.

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  • 1Division of Medical Oncology, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR USA.


Radioiodine (RAI) ablation following thyroidectomy is standard of care treatment for patients with intermediate or high risk differentiated thyroid cancer. Traditionally, this has been achieved by forgoing thyroid hormone replacement postoperatively, allowing endogenous thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) levels to rise. This rise in TSH provides the stimulus for RAI uptake by the thyroid remnant, but is associated with clinical hypothyroidism and its associated morbidities. Recombinant human TSH (rhTSH, thyrotropin alfa [Thyrogen(®)], Genzyme Corporation, Cambridge, MA, USA) was developed to provide TSH stimulation without withdrawal of thyroid hormone and clinical hypothyroidism. Phase III studies reported equivalent detection of recurrent or residual disease when rhTSH was used compared with thyroid hormone withdrawal (THW). These trials led to its approval as an adjunctive diagnostic tool for serum thyroglobulin (Tg) testing with or without RAI imaging in the surveillance of patients with differentiated thyroid cancer. Recently, rhTSH was given an indication for adjunctive preparation for thyroid remnant ablation after phase III studies demonstrated comparable outcomes for rhTSH preparation when compared with THW. Importantly, rhTSH stimulation has been found to be safe, well tolerated, and to result in improved quality of life. Here, we review the efficacy and tolerability studies leading to the approval for the use of rhTSH in well-differentiated thyroid cancer management.


Thyrogen®; ablation; radioiodine; recombinant human thyroid stimulating hormone; thyroid cancer; thyrotropin alfa

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