ThyCa News





ThyCa Awards New Thyroid Cancer Research Grants to Physicians at Johns Hopkins, M. D. Anderson, and Memorial Sloan-Kettering 

June 19, 2014—ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. is proud to announce six grants for thyroid cancer research into complex aspects of all types of thyroid cancer: papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. 

The new ThyCa grants were awarded to physician researchers at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland; University of Texas M.D. Anderson Center, Houston, Texas; and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York. 

In addition, continuation grants were awarded to researchers at Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; and Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. 

This is the twelfth consecutive year of ThyCa research grants. The grants are funded through donations to ThyCa from thyroid cancer patients, family members, and friends. 

ThyCa grants are open to researchers and institutions worldwide. An independent expert panel of the American Thyroid Association (ATA) reviewed applications and selected the recipients. 

The New ThyCa Grant Recipients and Projects: 

  • Elizabeth G. Grubbs, M.D., M.S., The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, for the project titled “Fusion Oncogenes as Drivers of Medullary Thyroid Cancer.” This project focuses on the role of RET fusion in MTC tumorigenesis, with the overall goal of showing that this gene rearrangement may predict biological behavior in MTC and that this pathway may be a viable target to (1) predict responses to targeted MTC therapy, (2) better stratify MTC patient outcomes and, for non-RET driven tumors, and (3) potentially offer a more rational approach to individualization of therapy.  
  • Jason D. Prescott, M.D., Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland for the project “Development of a High Throughput in vivo Screening System for Small Molecule Activators of Thyroid Differentiation: Identification and Targeting of New Molecular Pathways Involved Thyroid Cancer Progression.” This project seeks to (1) identify new molecular pathways and mechanisms contributing to aggressive thyroid cancer and progression involving the BRAF protooncogene and (2) assess compounds in a large drug library for their anti-thyroid tumor activity and their molecular actions. 
  • Brian R. Untch, M.D., Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, for the project titled “Mechanisms of response and resistance to farnesyltransferase inhibition in HRAS-driven thyroid tumors.” Dr. Untch notes that HRAS mutations are the second most common type of RAS mutation found in thyroid cancer and can be found in different types of cancer. Building on prior research with poorly differentiated and anaplastic thyroid cancer, the study will explore a class of drugs that are preferentially active against HRAS as compared to other mutations, to explore the mechanisms of adaptive and acquired resistance to a drug targeted against RAS in vitro and in vivo in a genetically accurate model of cancer. Dr. Untch’s group is also developing clinical trials with these drugs specifically for HRAS-mutant disease. 

This grant is this year’s Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant. These grants are named for ThyCa Co-Founder Ric Blake, in honor of his dedication and commitment to ThyCa and to our goal of better futures for everyone with thyroid cancer, everywhere in the world.  

Added Grants Awarded

The ThyCa continuation grants were awarded to these researchers: 

  • Nicole Chau, M.D., Harvard Medical School and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, for the project “Overcoming Resistance to RET inhibitors in Medullary Thyroid Cancer.” 
  • Brittany Bohinc, M.D., Duke University Hospital, Durham, North Carolina, for the project “Overexpression of LGR4 and LGR5 in Human Thyroid Cancer Promotes Wnt/β-Catenin Signaling and is Associated with Tumor Aggressiveness.” This grant was the 2013 Ric Blake Memorial Thyroid Cancer Research Grant.
  • Jaroslaw Jendrzejewski, M.D., Ohio State University Columbus, Ohio for the project “Analysis of locus 14q13.3 in search of mutations predisposing to Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma (PTC).”  This two-step project aims to uncover mutations by combining second-generation sequencing with bioinformatic analysis of 14q13.3 locus, which genome wide association studies have identified as one of the most important in genetic predisposition to PTC.  

“We’re excited about these grants, which support research crucial to developing cures for all thyroid cancer,” said Gary Bloom, ThyCa Executive Director, who is a thyroid cancer survivor. “More research on thyroid cancer is urgently needed. We are grateful to all our donors whose generosity throughout the year make these research grants possible.” 

ThyCa’s research fund funds welcome contributions of any size. Information about how to support ThyCa’s Rally for Research is on the ThyCa Rally for Research page

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The 17th Annual Conference Speaker Roster Just Got Better! 

We’re excited to introduce more of the 35 leading experts already confirmed for the Congerence. 

The 17th International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference takes place on October 17-19, 2014, in Denver, Colorado. 

Here are four more of the distinguished physicians who are joining us in Denver: 

  • Robert F. Gagel, M.D., Endocrinologist, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas, and a ThyCa’s Medical Advisor 
  • Madeleine Kane, M.D., Ph.D., Medical Oncologist, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, Colorado 
  • Steven I. Sherman, M.D., Endocrinologist, University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and ThyCa Medical Advisor 
  • Lori J. Wirth, M.D., Medical Oncologist, Massachusetts General Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts  

You’re invited to this unique weekend packed with important information and the latest updates. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet and get to know so many others dealing with the same journey! 

You may register online or by mail. And remember, scholarships are available to cover the registration fee (simply check the scholarship box on the registration form). 

Hotel rooms are available at the special rates of $89 for single or double; $99 for triple; and $109 for quad, plus tax.  

Visit our Conferences page for more details. We’ll add further information soon.

Hope to see you there! 

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Medullary Thyroid Cancer Handbook Expands 

It's here! The expanded and updated handbook, Medullary Thyroid Cancer, is now free for downloading from our web site's home page. The print edition, also free, will be ready soon.

Its 50 plus pages are packed with information on 27 topics on the care of all types of Medullary Thyroid Cancer (“MTC”) -- sporadic, the most common type, and hereditary, including FMTC, MEN2a, and MEN2b.

Our thanks to the numerous MTC physician and researcher experts for their writing, editing, and review of the medical content, plus the MTC survivors, caregivers, and friends who provided review and the helpful coping tips. 

You're invited to download your own copy and tell your friends, family, and physicians that it will also soon be available by mail anywhere in the world. 

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Over 300 Attend Colombia's First Thyroid Cancer Event 

Thyroid cancer support in Colombia, South America, got off to an enthusiastic start when more than 300 thyroid cancer survivors, caregivers, and friends gathered in Medellin to learn and receive answers from two physicians and a patient on June 7th.

Carlos Simon Duque, M.D., organized and hosted this first-ever meeting, with assistance from Dr. Sergio Zuniga and ThyCa Volunteer Philip Beere.

Dr. Duque shared an update on from the group’s first Thyroid Cancer Support Group Meeting in Medellin that took place on Saturday, June 7th.

"We were OVERWHELMED by the amount of people who went to the least 40% had a thyroidectomy due to papillary thyroid cancer and the rest of the people had a family member or friend that was affected by this disease.”

“It was quite rewarding to see everyone asking questions of a head and neck surgeon friend of mine, Dr. Sergio Zuniga, and me, plus I invited Philip Beere. Philip’s testimony, his experiences, and his frustration at the beginning of his treatment were shared with the audience and that was a winner as people identified with his experiences. Our next meeting will be held in late July.”

“Thanks a lot ThyCa for your support, and help. Yes indeed we talked a lot about ThyCa and gave attendees the website, plus information that Philip and I had. I am including a few photos.”

ThyCa is pleased to have helped this support group get started and to provide information and materials for the meeting. There's now a web site or the group in our local support groups section on the web.

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Nexavar® Approval Widens 

November 2013 and June 2014:  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expanded the approved uses of Nexavar® (sorafenib) on November 22, 2013, and approved the drug to treat late-stage (metastatic) differentiated thyroid cancer.

In June 2014, Nexavar® approval widened to Europe.

Nexavar works by inhibiting multiple proteins in cancer cells, limiting cancer cell growth and division. The drug’s new use is intended for patients with locally recurrent or metastatic, progressive differentiated thyroid cancer that no longer responds to radioactive iodine treatment. Differentiated thyroid cancer includes papillary and follicular thyroid cancer and their variants such as Hurthle cell and tall cell.

Differentiated thyroid cancer can be challenging to treat, especially when unresponsive to conventional therapies,” said Richard Pazdur, M.D., director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “Today’s approval demonstrates the FDA’s commitment to expediting the availability of treatment options for patients with difficult-to-treat diseases. 

The safety and effectiveness of Nexavar were established in a clinical study involving 417 participants with locally recurrent or metastatic, progressive differentiated thyroid cancer that does not respond to radioactive iodine treatment. Nexavar increased the length of time patients lived without the cancer progressing (progression-free survival) by 41 percent. 

The FDA completed its review of Nexavar’s new indication under its priority review program. This program provides for an expedited, 6-month review for drugs that may offer a significant improvement in safety or effectiveness of the treatment, prevention or diagnosis of a serious condition. Nexavar also received orphan-product designation by the FDA because it is intended to treat a rare disease or condition. 

The FDA approved Nexavar to treat advanced kidney cancer in 2005. In 2007, the agency expanded the drug’s label to treat liver cancer that cannot be surgically removed.  

Nexavar is co-marketed by Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals Inc., based in Wayne, New Jersey, and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, based in South San Francisco, California. 

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Lenvatinib Shows Positive Results in Clinical Trial

Lenvatinib shows promising results as a treatment option for people with differentiated radioiodine-resistant thyroid cancer, according to a Phase III clinical trial reported at the June 2014 meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).  

Lead study author is Martin Schlumberger, M.D., Oncology Professor at University Paris Sud, France and ThyCa Medical Advisor.  

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The Fault in Our Stars Opens 

Opening in movie theaters in early June is The Fault in Our Stars. One of the young people in the film has thyroid cancer. You may have seen the posts and links to scenes on our Facebook page. Also, one of the doctors is played by the brother of one of our volunteers! 

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Congratulations, Kelsie!

Kelsie Gallegos recently posted on our Facebook page, “I just celebrated ten years of being cancer free! It feels amazing. It was also ten years ago that I was able to sing at the ThyCa conference in Chicago; what an amazing experience that was. Thank you for your support!”  

And we thank you, Kelsie, for your support and your memorable singing at the conference. 

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Welcome to the New Support Group in Hawaii

Our newest local support group will start meeting in September in Wailuki, Maui, Hawaii. Thank you very much to Robin Foundher for starting this group.  

For details about this group, and the web pages of all the local ThyCa support groups, visit our Support Groups page. 

If you’d like to start a group, you’ll find the e-mail contact for our Support Groups Director on that same page. We’re glad to provide training, materials, and resources to help new groups get started. 

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Join #ThyCaTalk on Tuesdays on Twitter! 

Are you on Twitter? Join us on Tuesdays for #ThyCaTalk. 

#ThyCaTalk will be held each Tuesday during the months of June, July, August, and September, and all @ThyCaInc Twitter followers are invited to participate. 

During #ThyCaTalk, we’ll be sharing new insights, asking questions, hosting trivia, and providing some super cool ThyCa Spirit item giveaways along the way.

If you’re not already on Twitter, sign up and follow us. 

Read more about #ThyCaTalk.

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Unithroid Update 

June 5, 2014—Many ThyCa members have reported difficulty getting Unithroid® pills for their thyroid hormone replacement. The most frequent difficulty has been with the 125 mcg dosage. 

We asked Lannett Pharmaceutical whether it is having production issues with Unithroid.

Lannett replied that some items are on backorder, that this is a short term circumstance, and that there is no production issue with the product. Unithroid® will be available for most strengths within the next few weeks. 

If anyone has difficulty getting their Unithroid® prescription filled, Lannett suggests that they use Lannett's/Jerome Stevens generic Levothyroxine Sodium, and adds that it is exactly the same as Unithroid® and the generic is readily available in all strengths at local Walgreens or Kroger. 

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5 Physicians at the Free California Workshop 

At the Northern California/Bay Area Workshop this Saturday, June 7, 5 physicians from Stanford University Medical Center, University of California San Francisco Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente – Santa Clara will speak. The complete program schedule plus more details are on our web site. 

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Dr. Van Nostrand and Dr. Veronikis To Speak at Free Missouri Event 

Speakers at the Free Patient Education Day on Sunday, June 8, in St. Louis, Missouri, include Douglas Van Nostrand, M.D., Nuclear Medicine Director, Washington Hospital Center and ThyCa Medical Advisor; Irini Veronikis, Endocrinologist, Mercy Hospital St. Louis; and additional medical professionals. 

This event is sponsored by the Society of Nuclear Medicine & Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) along with the American Thyroid Association and ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Association, Inc. 

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Low- Iodine Recipe of the Month: Mel's Zucchini Carrot Muffins 
Contributed by Melissa R. of Maryland


2 cups grated zucchini
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup raisins
4 egg whites, beaten
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon non-iodized salt
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  • In a large bowl, mix together the zucchini, carrots, applesauce, walnuts, and raisins. 
  • Add the canola oil and egg whites, and set aside. 
  • In a second bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, orange peel, and spices. 
  • Fold dry ingredients into wet and blend gently with a wooden spoon until dry ingredients are mixed in.
  • Fill 2 greased or paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full (or one bundt pan).
  • Bake 20-22 minutes or until a sharp knife comes out clean when inserted into the mixture.    

Melissa writes, “When not on the Low Iodine Diet, I like these with cream cheese frosting: Mix together 8 ounces of softened butter with 8 ounces of softened cream cheese. Add 2 cups confectioner’s sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. Variation: Add a teaspoon of almond extract.  

Thank you,, Melissa! We will include your recipe in the next edition of ThyCa’s FREE Downloadable Low-Iodine Cookbook. 

Free and Downloadable: Click on the Cookbook link on our home page to download the 7th edition of the Low-Iodine Cookbook in English for free, with more than 340 favorite recipes from more than 150 generous volunteers. 

The Cookbook is also available in Spanish and French

Please remember, while you’re welcome to download and print the entire free low-iodine cookbook, you can also print just the pages you need. 

This free cookbook is a wonderful help when you’re preparing to receive radioactive iodine for treatment or testing. 

All the recipes are favorites of some of our ThyCa volunteers, who are sharing them with everyone, to make the low-iodine diet easy and tasty. The recipes are also great for family meals and for potlucks, any time. 

To contribute your favorite recipe or tip, send it to

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Please Join Us! 

No one should have to face a diagnosis of thyroid cancer alone. Your membership dues support ThyCa's efforts to provide our free services and resources to survivors and their families around the world. 

Membership dues enable us to do many great things such as:

  • Expand our informative web site
  • Develop and assist local support groups
  • Provide a toll-free survivors’ helpline and the Person-To-Person Network
  • Develop and distribute handbooks and many more publications

You may join as a 1-year, 2-year, or lifetime member of ThyCa. Membership is open to anyone interested in thyroid cancer and supporting ThyCa’s efforts. To join, online or by mail, please visit our Membership page.

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Follow Us 

Our support of each other — whether giving or receiving — is an incredible gift. Thank you for joining us. 

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About ThyCa NEWS NOTES and ThyCa
Copyright (c) 2014 ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, Inc. 

This newsletter and ThyCa’s many other services and thyroid cancer research grants are made possible through the generous contributions from our donors and volunteers. Thank you! We invite everyone’s contributions, either small or large, financial and service. Together we make a difference! 

Please share ThyCa News Notes with your family and friends. For permission to reprint in another electronic or print publication, please contact us at

Thank you to our writing, editing, and proofreading team for this issue: Tom Engle, Leah Guljord, Pat Paillard, Melissa R., Barb Statas, Theresa Wickerham, Cherry Wunderlich, and Gary Bloom. 

The information in this newsletter is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended, nor should it be interpreted, as medical advice or directions of any kind. Readers are advised to consult their own medical doctor(s) for all matters involving their health and medical care. 

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (tax ID #52-2169434) of thyroid cancer survivors, family members, and health care professionals serving people worldwide and dedicated to education, support, communication, and fundraising for thyroid cancer research.

ThyCa sponsors the annual International Thyroid Cancer Survivors’ Conference, as well as Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, a worldwide observance each September, plus year-round awareness campaigns, research funding, and thyroid cancer research grants.

Visit our web site to learn about thyroid cancer, coming events, and ways you can help. Ask us for free materials and information. E-mail to call toll-free at 1-877-588-7904, fax 1-630-604-6078, write PO Box 1102, Olney, MD 20830-1102, or visit our website.