Anaplastic thyroid cancer
Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is an aggressive form of cancer of the thyroid gland.
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.
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness or changing voice
- Loud breathing
- Lower neck mass, often noted to be enlarging
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 is not responsive to chemotherapy, either. For some patients, enrolling in a clinical trial of new thyroid cancer treatments may be an option.
The prognosis of this disease is poor. Less than 5% of patients survive 5 years. Most people do not survive longer than 6 months.