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Antineoplastic agents associated with thyroid dysfunction
Date:10/18/2011

Antineoplastic agents such as immunotherapies and targeted therapies that specifically target signaling pathways in cancer cells are associated with thyroid dysfunction in 20%-50% of cancer patients taking them, which can adversely affect patients' quality of life, according to a study published Oct. 18 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Over the past two decades, novel antineoplastic agents have been introduced that inhibit specific cellular processes to limit cancer cell growth. Some of these agents cause thyroid dysfunction, which physicians often overlook because of the complexity of the clinical picture in cancer patients. The symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, such as fatigue, weakness, depression, memory loss, and cardiovascular effects can be wrongly attributed to the primary disease. If under-diagnosed, thyroid dysfunction can adversely affect a patient's quality of life.

To understand the thyroid-related side effects of antineoplastic agents, their frequency, and underlying mechanisms, Ole-Petter Riksfjord Hamnvik, M.D., of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Hypertension at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, and colleagues reviewed articles on thyroid dysfunction in cancer patients. The researchers found that there are no known strategies to prevent thyroid disease in patients receiving these new antineoplastic agents, and that possible preventative measures may be more toxic than the thyroid disease itself. They also say that screening for thyroid disease is likely beneficial, but note that there were no screening recommendations for asymptomatic patients in the literature they reviewed. However, in this review, the authors provide their own recommendations for patients based on the pattern of abnormalities with each agent, in addition to recommending the monitoring of thyroid function tests in clinical trials of antineoplastic agents.

The researchers also recommend several paths of res
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Contact: Zack Rathner
jncimedia@oxfordjournals.org
301-841-1286
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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