New drug could help those with aggressive thyroid cancer

A recent study published in The Lancet Oncology reveals that the drug pazopanib may help patients with metastatic, rapidly progressing thyroid cancers.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic studied 37 patients with the most aggressive form of this cancer and found that about half of the patients had a long-lasting response to the drug. A total of 12 participants from that group are still alive without any evidence of disease progression. The median progression-free survival time was 11.7 months, with an 81 percent overall survival rate after one year.

"In this group of patients, we would have expected the cancer to have progressed in everyone within six months, but instead the median time to progression was almost a year in response to pazopanib therapy," said Keith Bible, a medical oncologist and researcher who led the trial.

The researchers note that, to their knowledge, these findings represent the highest response rate yet reported in aggressive cases of differentiated thyroid cancer. However, the drug may have some serious side effects, as the dose used in 16 patients had to be lowered because side effects were becoming potentially debilitating, according to oncologists.

The authors declare that the manufacturer of pazopanib did not provide funding or other material support to the researchers and they did not have access to the data.