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Targeted therapies| use substances that target the differences in the biology between cancer cells and normal cells.
A drug called Vandetanib (Caprelsa®) can be used to treat people with medullary thyroid cancer that cannot be operated on and that has spread. Vandetanib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. It works by blocking (inhibiting) signals within the thyroid cancer cells that make them grow and divide. Blocking the signals causes the cells to die.
Vandetanib is licensed for use in the UK, but has not been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)| or the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC)|. NICE and SMC currently gives advice on which new drugs or treatments should be available on the NHS. Vandetanib may therefore not be widely available on the NHS.
Content last reviewed: 1 December 2012
Next planned review: 2014
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