If you have medullary thyroid cancer, you may receive cabozantinib. It is used for treating this type of cancer after it has spread to other areas of the body. The medication works by blocking a certain protein in the body that is responsible for the growth and division of cancer cells. It is approved for use in adults only.
An Overview of Uses for Cabozantinib
Cabozantinib (Cometriq™) is a prescription medication approved to treat medullary thyroid cancer that has progressed to other areas of the body (metastasized). Cabozantinib does not cure cancer, but may be able to slow down its progression.
Understanding Thyroid Cancer
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the front of the neck, beneath the voice box (larynx). It is an endocrine gland, which means it releases hormones into the bloodstream. The hormones made by the thyroid help regulate many of the activities in the body, including how fast your heart beats, your body temperature, how quickly you burn calories, and the level of calcium in your blood.
Thyroid cancer occurs in the cells of the thyroid gland. The two types of cells in the thyroid are follicular cells and C cells. Follicular cells make thyroid hormones, while C cells make a hormone known as calcitonin.
There are four main types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, anaplastic, and medullary. The types are based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope (see Types of Thyroid Cancer to learn more).
Medullary thyroid cancer begins in C cells. It accounts for 5 percent to 10 percent of thyroid cancer cases. Scientists do not know what causes medullary thyroid cancer. In some cases, it runs in families, while other times, it occurs without a family history.
The treatment for medullary thyroid cancer usually involves surgery to remove the thyroid gland (known medically as a total thyroidectomy) and possibly the surrounding lymph nodes. Surgery is often quite successful when the cancer is confined to the thyroid.
In a clinical study, cabozantinib improved progression-free survival by about seven months. Progression-free survival is the length of time after treatment starts that the cancer does not get worse. In the study, people given cabozantinib had a median progression-free survival time of 11.2 months, while those given a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredient) had a progression-free survival time of 4 months.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Cometriq [package insert]. South San Francisco, CA: Exelixis;2012 November.
National Cancer Institute. Medullary thyroid cancer (February 13, 2013). NCI Web site. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/thyroid/HealthProfessional/page7. Accessed April 25, 2013.
Schoenstadt, A. Thyroid cancer (July 9, 2008). eMedTV Web site. Available at: http://cancer.emedtv.com/thyroid-cancer/thyroid-cancer.html. Accessed April 25, 2013.
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