Cancer Home > Caprelsa Uses

Your healthcare provider may recommend the use of Caprelsa in cases where medullary thyroid cancer has spread or surgery is not an option. This type of cancer sometimes runs in families and is usually slow growing. Caprelsa works by blocking a specific protein within the body, which can help slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells.

What Is Caprelsa Used For?

Caprelsa® (vandetanib) is a prescription medication approved to treat thyroid cancer. Specifically, it is used to treat people with medullary thyroid cancer that has advanced beyond the thyroid or cannot be treated with surgery.
The thyroid is a gland that lies at the base of the neck, just above the collarbone. It has two types of cells that produce hormones: follicular cells and C cells. Follicular cells produce thyroid hormone, which helps control body temperature, heart rate, and weight. C cells produce calcitonin, which helps control the level of calcium in the blood.
Thyroid cancer occurs when cancer cells first develop in the tissue of the thyroid. There are four main types of thyroid cancer, based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope. The four types are:
  • Papillary
  • Follicular
  • Anaplastic
  • Medullary.
Medullary thyroid cancer begins in the C cells of the thyroid. It is usually a slow-growing type of cancer, and can sometimes run in families.
Most people with thyroid cancer have surgery to remove all or part of the thyroid gland. However, if the cancer spreads (metastasizes) outside the thyroid, it may be difficult to treat with surgery. Metastatic thyroid cancer cells may be found in nearby lymph nodes, nerves, blood vessels, or other organs (such as the lungs).
Caprelsa is approved to treat medullary thyroid cancer that has spread just beyond the thyroid or more distantly to other areas of the body, and cannot be treated with surgery. It is used in people who are having symptoms or whose thyroid cancer is progressing.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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