Targeted therapies for medullary thyroid cancer

Targeted therapies interfere with the way that cancer cells grow. It is sometimes used to treat people with medullary thyroid cancer.

Targeted therapies target something in or around the cancer cell that is helping it grow and survive. The targeted therapy drugs cabozantanib (Cometriq®) and sometimes vandetanib (Caprelsa®) are used to treat medullary thyroid cancer when:

  • you cannot have surgery
  • the cancer is causing symptoms
  • the cancer has spread.

Cabozantanib and vandetanib are types of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), or multikinase inhibitors. They work by blocking signals in the thyroid cancer cells that make them grow and divide.

There are also other targeted therapies that work on gene changes (mutations) called RET mutations.

Targeted therapy drugs can help control the cancer. They cannot cure the cancer, but they can slow the growth and help with symptoms.

Sometimes drugs are given as part of a clinical trial. Your cancer doctor will give you more information about these drugs if they are available and suitable for you.