Targeted therapy for thyroid cancer

Targeted therapies use substances that target the differences in the biology between cancer cells and normal cells. 

Clinical trials are being carried out to see if targeted therapies may be useful for treating differentiated thyroid cancer.

Sorafenib is a type of treatment called a multi-kinase inhibitor. Kinases are proteins that regulate the way cells grow and divide. Sorafenib works by blocking (inhibiting) signals within the cancer cells that make them grow and divide. Blocking the signals causes the cells to die. Sorafenib can also stop the cancer cells developing new blood vessels. This reduces their supply of oxygen and nutrients, so the tumour shrinks or stops growing.

Research has shown it might be a useful treatment for people whose cancer has come back and is no longer responding to radioactive iodine treatment. 

It may not be widely available. In England, if your specialist thinks Sorafenib is suitable for you, they can apply for you to have it through the Cancer Drugs Fund. If you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland you can find out from your specialist if Sorafenib is available.

Back to Targeted (biological) therapies explained

Cancer growth inhibitors

Cancer growth inhibitors block certain chemical signals within cells, which slows down or stops the growth of the cancer.

Monoclonal antibodies

Monoclonal antibodies can attach themselves to cancer cells to prevent them from growing.