Medullary thyroid carcinoma: current clinical progress.
Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is infrequently found among all thyroid nodules in previously iodine deficient regions. Measurement of serum calcitonin is an important tool for early identification of MTC among the large number of thyroid nodules. With the use of modern laboratory assays and sex-specific reference intervals, clinical diagnostic specificity has considerably improved. While the prognosis of MTC confined to the thyroid (stage I/II tumors) is favorable with a disease specific survival similar to the general population, biochemical cure rates by surgery decreases in extensive disease. Few patients present with aggressive tumours that show rapid progression or advanced disease at diagnosis. Oncogenic mutations in the RET protooncogene occur in ~25 % of patients as part of the multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 syndromes and are present as somatic mutations in 60 % of all MTC and up to 90 % of metastatic cases.The multi-tyrosine kinase inhibitors vandetanib and cabozantinib have been approved for progressive advanced disease but have low specificity for the RET tyrosine kinase. With the advent of highly selective RET inhibitors selpercatinib and pralsetinib, the treatment landscape has profoundly changed. Selpercatinib is approved in the EU for treatment in the second and later lines of treatment. They have demonstrated a favorable safety profile and high objective response rates also in previously treated MTC patients. The use of selective RET inhibitors in the first line setting is currently the subject of clinical trials.