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Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) accounts for less than 2% of all thyroid cancers and is the most aggressive type of thyroid cancer. Most cases of anaplastic thyroid cancer are diagnosed in the sixth to seventh decade of life. Women are more likely to be affected than men. ATC generally occurs in individuals with a history of goiter or thyroid cancer. A history of head and neck radiation or exposure to radioactive materials may also increase the risk for ATC. Patients with ATC generally present with a rapidly-growing neck mass which may cause trouble swallowing (dysphagia), coughing, neck pain, and trouble breathing (dyspnea). Metastasis is present in more than half of individuals at the time of diagnosis. Patients with metastases may also present with bone pain, lymph node enlargement, weakness, and neurological deficits. Treatment of ATC is mostly palliative.
Source: GARD Last updated on 05-01-20
Due to the aggressive nature of this cancer and the lack of effective treatment options, the prognosis for individuals with ATC is often poor. The overall 5-year survival rate is reportedly less than 10% and most patients do not live longer than a few months after diagnosis. Those with a unilateral tumor, a tumor size less than 5 cm, and no lymph node involvement or metastases generally have a better prognosis. The most common site of distant metastasis is the lung, followed by the bone and brain.
Last updated on 05-01-20
Treatment of anaplastic thyroid cancer is mostly palliative. In some cases, surgery with radiation and chemotherapy may prolong survival. However, this type of cancer generally cannot be cured by surgery. 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 may be an option. There is no effective treatment for metastatic anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Last updated on 05-01-20
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