Thyroid cancer will afflict over 60,000 people in the United States this year and is the fastest increasing cancer in both men and women. It often begins as a seemingly innocuous lump in the neck, sore throat, or hoarseness. Advanced thyroid cancer is incurable. Though effective treatments exist for patients with metastatic thyroid cancer, including surgery and radioactive iodine, these therapies are not without side effects and do not eradicate the disease.

THYROID CANCER RESEARCH

Dr. Marcia Brose at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Brose is at the forefront of translational medicine, working with the department of Otorhinolaryngology and the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Her team of dedicated and highly trained physicians, scientists, research specialists and data managers are devoted to pursuing the highest quality clinical care and research to improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with thyroid cancer. The group pursues the immediate application of advances in scientific knowledge from lab work and from new literature to patient care in the clinic. Dr. Brose’s ultimate aim is to directly improve diagnostic approaches and expand and advance novel treatments for patients with thyroid cancer at all stages.
Dr. Brose is currently focused on clinical trials both at Penn and in the context of consortiums with colleagues from other institutions to improve the diagnosis and treatment of people with thyroid cancer. Currently underway is a trial using targeted therapy with sorafenib (BAYER) to treat patients that have failed treatment for advanced thyroid cancer. She has made it possible for these patients who have not responded to radioactive iodine therapy to be eligible for these trials, and the results thus far have been extremely positive. Preliminary results have shown slowing or stabilization of the disease in over 75% of participants for up to 25 months. The results of the Phase II trial are the first significant advance for the treatment of patients with advanced thyroid cancer in over 30 years. Dr. Brose’s findings will shortly be published in a top oncology journal.

Dr. David Pfister at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Dr. David G. Pfister has been responsible for the medical treatment of patients with head and neck cancers since he joined Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s Genitourinary Oncology Service in 1989. In the fall of 2004 Dr. Pfister was named Chief of the Head and Neck Medical Oncology Service in the Department of Medicine’s Division of Solid Tumor Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Dr. Pfister’s research focuses primarily on developing new and more effective therapies for tumors of the head and neck. Dr. Pfister and his colleagues have pioneered and refined techniques that help patients avoid having their larynxes (voice boxes) removed and have demonstrated that the combination of chemotherapy and radiation is an effective alternative to surgery for cancer of the larynx and surrounding structures. Last year’s benefit helped support the research and development of Head and Neck clinical trials, specifically one involving patients with recurrent and/or metastatic thyroid carcinoma not amenable to curative surgery or radioactive iodine (RAI).