ATA Annual Meeting Includes Potpourri of Thyroid Topics

Nancy A. Melville

October 03, 2018

WASHINGTON, DC — The 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association kicks off its 88th conference this week with an agenda packed with symposiums, lectures, research presentations, and debates over some of the most pressing issues currently faced in the field.

"The American Thyroid Association (ATA) meeting is the most comprehensive annual meeting relating to the management of thyroid diseases in the world," ATA President Charles H. Emerson, MD, told Medscape Medical News.

"This is not surprising as the ATA is the oldest multinational organization that deals with thyroid disease in the world," added Emerson, who is professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, in Boston.

"It is the only such organization that offers research grants and training programs in thyroid disease."

Advanced Thyroid Cancer a Key Topic

Among the burning issues to be tackled at the meeting is treatment of advanced thyroid cancer, which continues to be a challenge in the field despite improved outcomes in many other thyroid cancer types.

"There's a great interest in thyroid cancer because of the range of cancers, from those that are very low risk and where the prognosis is very good to the most serious cases such as the anaplastic form, which is very rare," Emerson said.

Key events addressing the issue will include a Thursday afternoon session entitled "Locally Advanced Thyroid Cancer in the Era of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs): A Conversation With a Surgeon, Oncologist, Radiation Oncologist, and Endocrinologist."

Another Thursday session will grapple with "Endocrine and Nuclear Medicine — Controversies, Consensus, and Collaboration in the Use of Radioactive Iodine Therapy in Differentiated Thyroid Cancer," and a third will look at "Immunologic-Based Approaches for Advanced Thyroid Cancers."

And in a plenary lecture to be delivered on Friday, Timothy A. Chan, MD, PhD, vice chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology and director of the Division of Translational Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, will speak on "Anti-Tumor Immunity/Immune Based Therapies for Advanced Cancer."

"These advanced cancers are fortunately not as common, but it's pressing and we are very interested in the rise of immunotherapy and some of the medications being developed," Emerson explained.

Anticipated Research to Be Reported

Among the anticipated research to be presented at the meeting will be two studies on novel RET oncogene-targeted therapies for advanced metastatic medullary thyroid cancer.

"These therapies may significantly improve therapeutic approaches for patients with advanced disease," said Mabel M. Ryder, MD, who is co-chair of the meeting's program committee.

In addition, a symposium will focus on the latest developments in Hurthle cell thyroid cancers, she said.

"These are rare malignancies for which there has been limited understanding of their biology," she explained.

"Prior and emerging genomic studies have provided insights into potential pathophysiology of the disease, which may aid in preoperative testing as well as therapeutic approaches."

There will also be details of a study validating "Artificial Intelligence (AI) Assisted Ultrasound Diagnosis for Thyroid Nodules."

Other notable studies to be highlighted include a randomized controlled trial on teprotumumab, an insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor inhibitory antibody for the treatment of thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy, and a novel zebrafish model for patients with mutations of the THRA gene.

Meanwhile, researchers will present on the role of preconception thyroid stimulating hormone levels and risk of preterm birth in a study of more than 4.3 million rural Chinese women.

And on Friday, trials to be highlighted in a clinical oral session will include a report on "A National Epidemic of Inadequate Preoperative Neck Ultrasound in the Evaluation of Suspicious or Malignant Thyroid Nodules and Cervical Lymph Nodes."

More than 400 research posters will also be presented throughout the meeting.

New in 2018, Symposiums, and Surgery

New to this year's agenda is the ATA Latin American satellite symposium on Wednesday, designed to allow for international networking and collaboration.

And the meeting will also offer its first annual Advanced Practice Providers satellite symposium, set for Saturday, featuring the mix of providers that comprise the clinical "thyroid team," with a focus on all aspects of clinical management of thyroid disease and how the "thyroid team," including nurse practitioners, nurse specialists, advanced degree nurses, and physician assistants, can work together.

Meanwhile, clinical symposiums held throughout the meeting will delve deeply into challenging issues such as molecular markers, with the Arthur Bauman clinical symposium on Saturday focusing on "The Role of Molecular Markers in the Evaluation of Thyroid Nodules — Rationale, Review and Perspectives," with talks including "Review of Available Molecular Assays and Indications for Their Use" and "Real-Time Practices: How Well Do Molecular Assays Perform in Clinical Practices — Strengths and Limitations."

Attendees will have the chance to further check out the latest on molecular markers and gene classifier options at lunch sessions on "Real-World Updates With Afirma GSC + Xpression Atlas" and "Comprehensive Genomic Profiling of Thyroid Nodules by ThyroSeq — Empowering Individualized Patient Management."

Evolving thyroid surgery advances will also be well-covered from several angles at the meeting, including an Early Riser symposium on Friday entitled  "Transoral Thyroid Surgery: Fad or Here to Stay?" that will feature talks on "Anatomy and Considerations for Starting Transoral Endoscopic Thyroidectomy Vestibular Approach (TOETVA)" as well as "Transoral Robotic Thyroidectomy Vestibular Approach (TORTVA)" and "Nerve Monitoring for Transoral Thyroid Surgery: Why, How, and What to Expect."

And on Saturday, R. Michael Tuttle, MD, clinical director of the Endocrinology Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center will deliver the Lewis E. Braverman Award Lecture "Common Clinical Thyroid Cancer Questions in Need of Better Answers."

Finally, on Sunday a surgical symposium will focus on "Multidisciplinary Management of Graves' Disease," with talks on "Medical Therapy — Initial and Long-Term Radioactive Iodine," and "Surgical Management," with panel cases to be discussed.

More Highlights

Other highlights at ATA will include the annual Clark T. Sawin historical presentation on "The Treatment of Hypothyroidism — From Animal Extracts to Current Controversies."

In addition, the Pediatric Thyroid Forum satellite program will be offered on Saturday, providing an "Update on Pediatric Thyroid Disease 2018: Current State and Future Directions."

Also on Saturday, Kevan C. Herold, MD, a professor of Immunobiology and Medicine (Endocrinology) at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, will deliver another plenary lecture on the intriguing topic of "The Role of Microbiome in Autoimmunity."

"If we could solve the riddle of autoimmunity, we would be able to basically offer a better treatment to many cases of both over and underactive thyroid disease," Emerson concluded. 

Emerson has reported no relevant financial relationships.

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