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Open access

Furio Pacini, Dagmar Fuhrer, Rossella Elisei, Daria Handkiewicz-Junak, Sophie Leboulleux, Markus Luster, Martin Schlumberger, and Johannes W Smit

Modern use of post-operative radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment for differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) should be implemented in line with patients’ risk stratification. Although beneficial effects of radioiodine are undisputed in high-risk patients, controversy remains in intermediate-risk and some low-risk patients. Since the last consensus on post-surgical use of RAI in DTC patients, new retrospective data and results of prospective randomized trials have been published, which have allowed the development of a new European Thyroid Association (ETA) statement for the indications of post-surgical RAI therapy in DTC. Questions about which patients are candidates for RAI therapy, which activities of RAI can be used, and which modalities of pre-treatment patient preparation should be used are addressed in the present guidelines.

Free access

Laura Valerio, Carlotta Giani, Laura Agate, Eleonora Molinaro, David Viola, Valeria Bottici, Antonio Matrone, Luciana Puleo, Loredana Lorusso, Virginia Cappagli, Alessandro Ribechini, and Rossella Elisei

Introduction: Tyrosine kinase inhibitors represent a better treatment in patients with radioiodine-refractory differentiated thyroid cancer (RAI-R DTC). Lenvatinib is usually well-tolerated, but sometimes, it is associated with serious and even life-threatening side effects. The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of and the potential risk factors for fistula and/or organ perforation in RAI-R DTC patients treated with lenvatinib. Methods: This study included data from advanced and progressive RAI-R DTC patients treated with lenvatinib from February 2011 to February 2020 who were followed up at a single center. The clinical-pathological features and the biochemical and morphological results of the patients were collected at the time of starting lenvatinib and during the follow-up. Results: Fourteen of 95 (14.7%) locally advanced or metastatic RAI-R DTC patients treated with lenvatinib developed a fistula or organ perforation. Nine of 14 (64.3%) patients had tumor infiltration of the trachea, bronchus, esophagus, pleura, or bladder. Five of 14 (35.7%) had a bowel perforation, but only 2 had preexisting diverticulosis. Evaluation of the risk factors for developing a fistula or organ perforation showed that the presence of tumor infiltration and the tumor histology (papillary and poorly differentiated vs. follicular and Hurthle thyroid cancer) were significantly correlated with the development of a fistula or organ perforation (p = 0.003 and p = 0.02, respectively). In the subgroup of patients with tumor infiltration, we found that the papillary thyroid cancer histotype was the only potential predictor of fistula development. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT), the starting dose of lenvatinib, and the duration of treatment were not relevant for the development of fistula. Conclusions: In metastatic thyroid cancer patients treated with lenvatinib, the presence of tumor infiltration and histological type should be considered as potential risk factors for the development of fistula or organ perforation, although they do not represent an absolute contraindication. Although EBRT and the presence of diverticulosis were not significantly associated with the development of fistula and organ perforation, they should be regarded as potential additional reasons for the development of these complications. According to our findings, there is no reason to start lenvatinib at a lower daily dose when tumor infiltration is present.

Free access

Laura Fugazzola, Rossella Elisei, Dagmar Fuhrer, Barbara Jarzab, Sophie Leboulleux, Kate Newbold, and Jan Smit

The vast majority of thyroid cancers of follicular origin (TC) have a very favourable outcome, but 5–10% of cases will develop metastatic disease. Around 60–70% of this subset, hence less than 5% of all patients with TC, will become radioiodine refractory (RAI-R), with a significant negative impact on prognosis and a mean life expectancy of 3–5 years. Since no European expert consensus or guidance for this challenging condition is currently available, a task force of TC experts was nominated by the European Thyroid Association (ETA) to prepare this document based on the principles of clinical evidence. The task force started to work in September 2018 and after several revision rounds, prepared a list of recommendations to support the treatment and follow-up of patients with advanced TC. Criteria for advanced RAI-R TC were proposed, and the most appropriate diagnostic tools and the local, systemic and palliative treatments are described. Systemic therapy with multikinase inhibitors is fully discussed, including recommendations on how to start it and at which dosage, on the duration of treatment, and on the management of side effects. The appropriate relationship between the specialist and the patient/family as well as ethical issues are covered. Based on the available studies and on personal experience, the experts provided 39 recommendations aimed to improve the management of advanced RAI-R TCs. Above all of them is the indication to treat and follow these patients in a specialized setting which allows the interaction between several specialists in a multidisciplinary team.

Free access

Lars Bastholt, Michael C. Kreissl, Dagmar Führer, Ana L. Maia, Laura D. Locati, Léa Maciel, Yi Wu, Kevin N. Heller, Alan Webster, and Rossella Elisei

Objectives: Effective management of adverse events (AEs) following vandetanib treatment is important to maximize clinical benefits. We examined whether more frequent contact with vandetanib-treated patients reduced AEs of CTCAE grade 2 or higher. Study Design: In this open-label, multicentre, phase III study, patients with locally advanced or metastatic medullary thyroid cancer were randomized to a patient outreach programme (outreach) or a standard AE monitoring schedule (vandetanib control) for 52 weeks. In addition to standard AE monitoring, patients in the outreach arm were contacted every 2 weeks by telephone/during their clinic visit for specific AE questioning related to diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, headache and rash. Patients received vandetanib at 200 or 300 mg/day, depending on the creatinine levels at screening. Results: Altogether, 205 patients were randomized (outreach, n = 103; vandetanib control, n = 102). This study did not meet its primary objective; the mean percentage of time patients experienced at least one AE of grade 2 or higher was higher for the outreach group (51.65%) than for the vandetanib control group (45.19%); the difference was not statistically significant (t statistic: 1.29; 95% CI -3.44 to 16.37%; p = 0.199). The most frequently reported AEs were diarrhoea (56.9% for the outreach group vs. 46.6% for the vandetanib controls), hypertension (36.3 vs. 31.1%), rash (25.5 vs. 24.3%) and nausea (25.5% vs. 18.4%), and the most frequently reported AEs of grade 2 or higher were hypertension (33.3 vs. 23.3%), diarrhoea (26.5 vs. 24.3%) and dermatitis acneiform (11.8 vs. 9.7%). Conclusions: Additional outreach to patients treated with vandetanib had no impact on the rate or severity of AEs compared to the standard AE monitoring schedule. AEs were consistent with the known safety profile of vandetanib.

Free access

Laura Agate, Francesca Bianchi, Federica Brozzi, Pierina Santini, Eleonora Molinaro, Valeria Bottici, David Viola, Loredana Lorusso, Paolo Vitti, and Rossella Elisei

Background: Recently, there has been a trend to reduce the use of radioiodine remnant ablation (RRA) in patients with low-risk (LR) and intermediate-risk (IR) differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). Objectives: The aim of this paper was to evaluate the diagnostic role of whole-body scan (ptWBS) performed after RRA in LR and IR DTC patients. Methods: We analyzed 545 DTC patients treated with total thyroidectomy and RRA in hypothyroidism followed by a ptWBS. Neck ultrasound (US) and serum thyroglobulin measurement were performed. According to the American Thyroid Association guidelines, patients were classified as LR (n = 345) and IR (n = 200). Results: In addition to the thyroid remnant, the ptWBS showed the presence of further areas of <sup>131</sup>I uptake in 16/545 (2.9%) cases. ptWBS showed laterocervical lymph node metastases in 11/16 patients (10/11 were also detected by US), mediastinal uptake in 1/16, lung metastases in 3/16, and bone metastases in 1/16. Only 6/545 (1.1%) metastases were detected by ptWBS alone. After 7.8 years, 8/16 patients were free of disease, and 8 had persistent disease: 4 “biochemical” and 4 “structural.” Remission was achieved in 3 cases after one single <sup>131</sup>I course, in 1 case after surgery, and in the last 4 cases after several <sup>131</sup>I courses. Conclusions: The ptWBS diagnostic role was clinically relevant for the therapeutic strategies of our patients only in 1.1% of the cases. The cost-effectiveness of performing RRA and ptWBS in all LR and IR patients to find 1–2% of the cases with distant metastases remains controversial.

Open access

Francesca Orsolini, Alessandro Prete, Pierpaolo Falcetta, Domenico Canale, Fulvio Basolo, Greta Alì, Francesca Manassero, Paolo Vitti, Rossella Elisei, and Eleonora Molinaro


Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare endocrine tumor, which can be sporadic or familial, as a component of multiple endocrine neoplasia 2 (MEN2). Overall, 10% of MTC cases have already developed at presentation or will develop metastasis during follow-up. Testicular metastases are exceptional and only one case of unilateral testis involvement by metastatic MTC has been already reported in literature. We described the first known case of asymptomatic bilateral testicular MTC metastases, discovered incidentally at testicular ultrasound (US) performed for unrelated reasons.

Case presentation

A Latin American 32-year-old man with MEN 2A syndrome and metastatic MTC underwent andrological and urological examination due to premature ejaculation. US imaging showed two symmetrical hypoechoic lesions involving both testes. Suspecting a bilateral testicular cancer, the patient underwent excision biopsy of both testicular lesions. Histopathology and immunohistochemical examinations documented metastatic MTC of both testicular lesions.


Beyond its rarity, testis should be considered as a potential metastatic site of MTC, especially in patients with advanced disease.

Established facts

  • Distant metastases are present at the diagnosis in 10–15% of patients with medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC).

  • Testicular metastases are anecdotal. Only one case of unilateral testis involvement by metastatic MTC has been reported in the literature.

Novel insights

  • Testis should be considered as a possible site of metastases in patients with diffuse metastatic MTC.

  • Testicular ultrasound could be considered as an useful tool for the evaluation and follow-up of metastatic MTC.

Open access

Giulia Brigante, Clara Lazzaretti, Elia Paradiso, Federico Nuzzo, Martina Sitti, Frank Tüttelmann, Gabriele Moretti, Roberto Silvestri, Federica Gemignani, Asta Försti, Kari Hemminki, Rossella Elisei, Cristina Romei, Eric Adriano Zizzi, Marco Agostino Deriu, Manuela Simoni, Stefano Landi, and Livio Casarini

To identify a peculiar genetic combination predisposing to differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC), we selected a set of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with DTC risk, considering polygenic risk score (PRS), Bayesian statistics and a machine learning (ML) classifier to describe cases and controls in three different datasets. Dataset 1 (649 DTC, 431 controls) has been previously genotyped in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on Italian DTC. Dataset 2 (234 DTC, 101 controls) and dataset 3 (404 DTC, 392 controls) were genotyped. Associations of 171 SNPs reported to predispose to DTC in candidate studies were extracted from the GWAS of dataset 1, followed by replication of SNPs associated with DTC risk (P < 0.05) in dataset 2. The reliability of the identified SNPs was confirmed by PRS and Bayesian statistics after merging the three datasets. SNPs were used to describe the case/control state of individuals by ML classifier. Starting from 171 SNPs associated with DTC, 15 were positive in both datasets 1 and 2. Using these markers, PRS revealed that individuals in the fifth quintile had a seven-fold increased risk of DTC than those in the first. Bayesian inference confirmed that the selected 15 SNPs differentiate cases from controls. Results were corroborated by ML, finding a maximum AUC of about 0.7. A restricted selection of only 15 DTC-associated SNPs is able to describe the inner genetic structure of Italian individuals, and ML allows a fair prediction of case or control status based solely on the individual genetic background.

Open access

Chantal A Lebbink, Thera P Links, Agnieszka Czarniecka, Renuka P Dias, Rossella Elisei, Louise Izatt, Heiko Krude, Kerstin Lorenz, Markus Luster, Kate Newbold, Arnoldo Piccardo, Manuel Sobrinho-Simões, Toru Takano, A S Paul van Trotsenburg, Frederik A Verburg, and Hanneke M van Santen

At present, no European recommendations for the management of pediatric thyroid nodules and differentiated thyroid carcinoma (DTC) exist. Differences in clinical, molecular, and pathological characteristics between pediatric and adult DTC emphasize the need for specific recommendations for the pediatric population. An expert panel was instituted by the executive committee of the European Thyroid Association including an international community of experts from a variety of disciplines including pediatric and adult endocrinology, pathology, endocrine surgery, nuclear medicine, clinical genetics, and oncology. The 2015 American Thyroid Association Pediatric Guideline was used as framework for the present guideline. Areas of discordance were identified, and clinical questions were formulated. The expert panel members discussed the evidence and formulated recommendations based on the latest evidence and expert opinion. Children with a thyroid nodule or DTC require expert care in an experienced center. The present guideline provides guidance for healthcare professionals to make well-considered decisions together with patients and parents regarding diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up of pediatric thyroid nodules and DTC.

Open access

Luciana Puleo, Laura Agate, Irene Bargellini, Giuseppe Boni, Paolo Piaggi, Claudio Traino, Tommaso Depalo, Giulia Lorenzoni, Francesca Bianchi, Duccio Volterrani, Sandra Brogioni, Valeria Bottici, Maurizia Rossana Brunetto, Barbara Coco, Eleonora Molinaro, and Rossella Elisei


Liver metastases occur in 45% of patients with advanced metastatic medullary thyroid cancer (MTC). Transarterial radioembolization (TARE) has been proposed to treat liver metastases (LM), especially in neuroendocrine tumors. The aim of this study was to investigate the biochemical (calcitonin and carcino-embryonic antigen) and objective response of liver metastases from MTC to TARE.


TARE is an internal radiotherapy in which microspheres loaded with β-emitting yttrium-90 (90Y) are delivered into the hepatic arteries that supply blood to LM. Eight patients with progressive multiple LM underwent TARE and were followed prospectively. They were clinically, biochemically and radiologically evaluated at 1, 4, 12 and 18 months after TARE.


Two patients were excluded from the analysis due to severe liver injury and death due to extrahepatic disease progression, respectively. One month after TARE, a statistically significant (P = 0.02) reduction of calcitonin was observed in all patients and remained clinically relevant during follow-up; reduction of CEA, although not significant, was found in all patients. Significant reduction of liver tumor mass was observed 1, 4 and 12 months after TARE (P = 0.007, P = 0.004, P = 0.002, respectively). After 1 month, three of six patients showed partial response (PR) and three of six stable disease (SD) according to RECIST 1.1, while five of six patients had a PR and one of six a SD according to mRECIST. The clinical response remained relevant 18 months after TARE. Excluding one patient, all others showed only a slight and transient increase in liver enzymes.


TARE is effective in LM treatment of MTC. The absence of severe complications and the good tolerability make TARE a valid therapeutic strategy when liver LM are multiple and progressive.