Anaplastic thyroid cancer Definition
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer of the thyroid gland.
Anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid
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.
Anaplastic cancer accounts for only about 1% of all thyroid cancers.
Coughing up blood
Hoarseness or changing voice
Lower neck lump, which often grows quickly Exams and Tests
A physical examination almost always show a growth in the neck region.
A CT scan or MRI of the neck may show a tumor growing from the thyroid gland.
A thyroid biopsy makes the diagnosis.
An examination of the airway with a fiberoptic scope ( laryngoscopy) may show a paralyzed vocal cord.
A thyroid scan shows this growth to be "cold," meaning it does not absorb a radioactive substance.
Thyroid function blood tests are usually normal.
This type of cancer cannot be cured by surgery. Complete removal of the thyroid gland does not prolong most patients' lives.
Of other treatment options, only radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy has a significant benefit.
Surgery to place a tube in the throat to help with breathing (tracheostomy) or in the stomach to help with eating (gastrostomy) may be needed during treatment.
For some patients, enrolling in a clinical trial of new thyroid cancer treatments may be an option.
You can often ease the stress of illness by joining a support group of people sharing common experiences and problems.
The outlook with this disease is poor. Most people do not survive longer than 6 months because the disease is aggressive and there is a lack of effective treatment options.
Possible Complications Spread of tumor within the neck
Metastasis (spread) of cancer to other body tissues or organs When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if there is a persistent lump or mass in the neck, hoarseness, changing voice, cough, or coughing up blood.
Ladenson P, Kim M. Thyroid. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds.
Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 244.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Guidelines in Oncology 2010: Thyroid Cancer. Version 1.2010.
Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-
A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.