A survey conducted by a group of European researchers found that most respondents from European countries regularly used gene sequencing in rare thyroid cancers such as medullary thyroid carcinoma, according to a poster presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2021. This is despite the fact that selective targeted therapies may not be equally accessible throughout Europe. 

The authors of this poster noted the way that radioiodine refractory thyroid cancers have changed due to the availability of novel therapies that treat them at a molecular level. However, to fully utilize these molecular therapies, molecular somatic genotyping must first be carried out. Without access to molecular somatic screening, physicians are unable to target specific molecular abnormalities in these thyroid cancers. 

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The authors thus decided to conduct an online survey to find out how physicians across Europe approach this issue. This online survey was conducted from November 18, 2020, to January 18, 2021. The survey was sent to EURACAN G6 Group, EORTC Endocrine Group, and European Thyroid Association (ETA) members and consisted of 19 questions “regarding country, medical practice modalities, molecular genotyping capacities, reimbursement, and treatment access modalities.” 

The researchers recorded responses from 86 practitioners, most of whom were endocrinologists (47.7%). Here were some of the results: 

  • Forty-seven respondents (44.2%) were routinely managing aggressive thyroid cancers, with 38 of them (80.9%) regularly prescribing somatic molecular genotyping. 
  • The preferred methods of somatic molecular genotyping were tumor DNA-based techniques for gene mutations (89.8%) and gene fusions (64.4%). 
  • Somatic molecular genotyping was mostly funded by national healthcare systems (73.7%).
  • For respondents who did not prescribe molecular analyses, the main reasons cited were a lack of established workflow (46.7%), lack of reimbursement (46.7%), and lack of access to targeted therapies (40%).

This survey shows that molecular genotyping is widely prescribed across Europe when managing aggressive thyroid cancers, even if physicians in some countries face greater obstacles than others. 

Reference

de la Fouchardiere C, Fugazzola L, Taylor J, et al. Molecular genotyping in refractory thyroid cancers: results of a European survey. Poster presented at: European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Congress 2021; September 16-21, 2021; Virtual.