Current treatment of endocrine cancers relies primarily on surgical resection, which is generally effective only for localized disease. Radioactive iodine treatment is an important modality for those thyroid cancers that maintain the ability to take up iodine. For endocrine cancers that are no longer localized, current modes of therapy, including various combinations of chemotherapy and radiation, are inadequate, posing a major challenge to ongoing research to develop more effective methods for diagnosis and treatment. In this article, we offer some predictions of future trends in the diagnosis and treatment of endocrine cancers. Following a general introduction, we focus on thyroid cancer as a paradigm for what we may expect in future developments, and then add selected comments relevant to parathyroid, adrenocortical, and gastrointestinal and pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. Rapid, inexpensive whole genome sequencing of both germline and tumor DNA, novel molecular and functional imaging, as well as new biomarkers are expected to enable more precise diagnosis, targeted therapy, and possibly prevention. Translating the coming wave of data on the molecular pathogenesis of endocrine cancers into practical diagnostic and treatment modalities will require new forms of collaboration between investigators, clinicians, and industry.
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