Current controversies and future directions in the diagnosis and management of differentiated thyroid cancers

Timothy M. Ullmann, Katherine D. Gray, Maureen D. Moore, Rasa Zarnegar, Thomas J. Fahey III


Despite the development of novel diagnostic, surgical, and chemotherapeutic approaches to differentiated thyroid cancers (DTCs), the diagnosis and management of these tumors remains controversial. The most recent American Thyroid Association (ATA) guidelines, released in 2015, reflect a recent shift towards less aggressive management for patients with DTCs. However, many clinicians have expressed concern that more conservative management will put patients at risk for disease recurrence and metastasis. In particular, the management of indeterminate nodules on fine needle aspiration (with special attention to genetic and epigenetic markers of malignancy), the extent of surgery for known differentiated cancers, the role of adjuvant radioactive iodine (RAI) therapy, and novel targeted treatments with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) represent current areas of uncertainty and opportunities for future research. In this review, we examine the current state of the art in these areas, and address some of the questions that remain.