Thyroid cancers are common endocrine malignancies that comprise tumors with different clinical and histological features. Indeed, papillary and follicular thyroid cancers are slow-growing, well-differentiated tumors, whereas anaplastic thyroid cancers are undifferentiated neoplasias that behave much more aggressively. Well-differentiated thyroid carcinomas are efficiently cured by surgery and radioiodine, unlike undifferentiated tumors that fail to uptake radioactive iodine and are usually resistant to chemotherapy. Therefore, novel and more effective therapies for these aggressive neoplasias are urgently needed. Whereas most genetic events underlying the pathogenesis of well-differentiated thyroid cancers have been identified, the molecular mechanisms that generate undifferentiated thyroid carcinomas are still unclear. To date, one of the best-characterized genetic alterations leading to the development of poorly differentiated thyroid tumors is the loss of the p53 tumor suppressor gene. In addition, the existence of a complex network among p53 family members (p63 and p73) and their interactions with other factors that promote thyroid cancer progression has been well documented. In this review, we provide an update on the current knowledge of the role of p53 family proteins in thyroid cancer and their possible use as a therapeutic target for the treatment of the most aggressive variants of this disease.
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