Eric J. Sherman, MD, on Agents for Treating RET Fusion–Positive Thyroid Cancer

Eric J. Sherman, MD, highlights several drugs that are being used to treat RET-positive thyroid cancer.

At the 2021 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, CancerNetwork® sat down with Eric J. Sherman, MD, a medical oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, who spotlighted agents that are currently used for the treatment of RET fusion–positive thyroid cancer. Although only a subset of patients with papillary thyroid cancer have disease that is driven by RET fusions, over half of all patients with medullary disease have RET mutations. Due to this, RET is believed to play an important role in the treatment of thyroid cancer


One of the things that we knew about for a long time is that a subset of thyroid cancers are driven by RET fusion genes [in papillary disease]. For medullary [disease], on other hand, probably about 55% or 60% are driven by RET mutations, either hereditary or somatic. We know RET plays a very important role in the treatment of thyroid cancers. A lot of the treatments that started out for medullary thyroid cancer were really based on the fact that certain drugs like cabozantinib [Cabometyx] and vandetanib [Caprelsa] targeted RET. Because of that, although these drugs hit many different targets, pretty good activity was seen and both vandetanib and cabozantinib got FDA approvals. [However], other drugs like sunitinib [Sutent], pazopanib [Votrient], and lenvatinib [Lenvima] were also shown to have reasonable activity, although they never went through randomized phase 3 studies.


Sherman EJ, Wirth LJ, Shah MH, et al. Selpercatinib efficacy and safety in patients with RET-altered thyroid cancer: a clinical trial update. J Clin Oncol. 2021;39(suppl 15):6073. doi:10.1200/JCO.2021.39.15_suppl.6073