Clinical and molecular characterisation of metastatic papillary thyroid cancer according to radioiodine therapy outcomes

Joana Simões-Pereira, Ana Saramago, Ricardo Rodrigues, Marta Pojo, Carolina Pires, Mariana Horta, Dolores López-Presa, Miguel Rito, Rafael Cabrera, Teresa C. Ferreira, Valeriano Leite, Branca M. Cavaco

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Purpose: Radioiodine (RAI) therapy remains the gold-standard approach for distant metastatic differentiated thyroid cancer (TC). The main objective of our work was to identify the clinical and molecular markers that may help to predict RAI avidity and RAI therapy response of metastatic lesions in a cohort of papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) patients. Methods: We performed a retrospective analysis of 122 PTC patients submitted to RAI therapy due to distant metastatic disease. We also analysed, through next-generation sequencing, a custom panel of 78 genes and rearrangements, in a smaller cohort of 31 metastatic PTC, with complete follow-up, available RAI therapy data, and existing tumour sample at our centre. Results: The most frequent outcome after RAI therapy was progression of disease in 59.0% of cases (n = 71), with median estimate progression-free survival of 30 months. RAI avidity was associated with PTC subtype, age and stimulated thyroglobulin at first RAI therapy for metastatic disease. The most frequently altered genes in the cohort of 31 PTC patients’ primary tumours were RAS isoforms (54.8%) and TERT promoter (TERTp) (51.6%). The presence of BRAF p.V600E or RET/PTC alterations was associated with lower avidity (p = 0.012). TERTp mutations were not associated with avidity (p = 1.000) but portended a tendency for a higher rate of progression (p = 0.063); similar results were obtained when RAS and TERTp mutations coexisted (p = 1.000 and p = 0.073, respectively). Conclusions: Early identification of molecular markers in primary tumours may help to predict RAI therapy avidity, the response of metastatic lesions and to select the patients that may benefit the most from other systemic therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625 - 634
Issue number2
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - May 2024


  • Avidity
  • Metastasis
  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Radioiodine therapy
  • RAS genes
  • TERT promoter


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