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Alternative Names Return to topAnaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid
Definition Return to top
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is an aggressive form of cancer of the thyroid gland.
Causes Return to top
Anaplastic thyroid cancer grows very rapidly and is an invasive type of thyroid cancer. It occurs most often in people over age 60. The cause is unknown. Thyroid function tests are usually normal. Anaplastic cancer accounts for only about 1% of all thyroid cancers and is a very rare disease.
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
A physical examination may show a neck mass.
Treatment Return to top
This type of cancer is treated with surgery to remove the tumor, or radiation therapy, or both. Surgery may require placement of a tube in the throat to help breathing (tracheostomy).
This tumor does not respond to radioactive iodine, which is used to treat other types of thyroid cancer. It usually does not responsive to chemotherapy, either. For some patients, enrolling in a clinical trial of new thyroid cancer treatments may be an option.
Support Groups Return to top
The stress of illness can often be eased by joining a support group of people sharing common experiences and problems. See cancer - support group.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The prognosis of this disease is poor. Less than 5% of patients survive 5 years. Most people do not survive longer than 6 months.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if there is a persistent lump or mass in the neck, hoarseness, changing voice, cough, or coughing up blood.Update Date: 3/21/2008 Updated by: Stephen Grund, MD, PhD, Chief of Hematology/Oncology and Director of the George Bray Cancer Center at New Britain General Hospital, New Britain, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.