Endocrine-related cancer 2017 09 1424(12) T311-T329 doi 10.1530/ERC-17-0316
The incidence of thyroid cancers has been steadily increasing worldwide over the past few decades. Although five-year survival rates for differentiated thyroid cancers are upwards of 90%, clinical outcomes for patients with undifferentiated, recurrent and/or metastatic disease are often dismal despite conventional interventions. As such, there is a demand for novel treatment options. Cancer immunotherapy represents the ultimate form of personalized medicine by leveraging the specificity and potency of a patient’s immune system to kill their tumor. The thyroid cancer microenvironment is rich in immunological cells, making it a reasonable candidate for immunotherapy. This review maps out the immunological features of thyroid cancers and how these can be modulated. There are surprising immunological consequences of conventional therapies that demand attention. Also, hormonal modulation of the immune system is highlighted as a unique and confounding feature of thyroid cancers. A variety of cutting-edge immune-based therapies are discussed, with an emphasis placed on how these can be integrated with the current standard of care. Several high priority areas in need of research are also highlighted.