Current picture of anaplastic thyroid cancer patients' care and meetable needs: A survey of 94 Institutions from the EORTC Endocrine and Head and Neck Cancer Groups

Published:January 02, 2023DOI:


      • Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is poorly responsive to chemotherapy and highly lethal.
      • BRAF/MEKi and immunotherapy have shown promising results in certain subsets of ATC.
      • International guidelines recommend molecular testing to address appropriate therapy.
      • In Europe, no innovative treatments have been approved recently for advanced ATC.
      • This survey captures the diversified scenario of ATC diagnosis/therapy across E.U.


      Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is a rare cancer accounting for 40% of thyroid cancer-specific deaths. In the last 5 years, improved insights into molecular pathways led the Food and Drug Administration to license BRAF/MEK inhibitors (B/Mi) in BRAFV600E-mutant ATC, and pembrolizumab in solid cancer with high tumour mutational burden (TMB-H) (≥10 mutations/megabase) (mut/Mb). In Europe, clinicians face challenges in prescribing novel treatments, as the European Medical Association (EMA) has not licensed B/Mi nor immunotherapy (IO) for ATC so far. Some patients manage to receive these drugs through alternative ways. We investigated the extent of this phenomenon launching an online survey from March 12th to 19th 2021 open to 239 Institutions in the EORTC Endocrine and Head & Neck Cancer Groups. Questions enquired about the number of ATC patients evaluated/year, feasibility of BRAF assessment, accessibility to B/Mi-IO, availability of clinical trials and interest in new studies. Colleagues from 94 Institutions (20 Countries) joined: 30 centres evaluated ≥5 ATC patients/year, with an overall incidence >200 patients/year. 80.8% tested BRAF status, 43.6% by next-generation sequencing. 62.7% and 70% of responders reported limitations in prescribing B/Mi and IO, respectively: either the impossibility of offering them, or drugs accessibility exclusively under certain conditions (e.g. health insurance, clinical trials, compassionate use, off-label). Only 13.8% had clinical trials ongoing while 91.5% of sites claimed ATC-dedicated trials. Disparities in access to novel treatments are diffuse. Access to cutting-edge therapies is an urgent issue in this setting, and clinical trials seem feasible within an appropriate network.


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