Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is an aggressive form of cancer of the thyroid gland.
Alternative Names: Anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid
Causes, incidence, and risk factors:
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.
Signs and tests:
A physical examination may show a neck mass.
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 is not responsive to radioactive iodine, which is used to treat other types of thyroid cancer. It is also usually not responsive to chemotherapy.
The stress of illness can often be eased by joining a support group of people sharing common experiences and problems. See cancer - support group.
The prognosis of this disease is poor. Less than 5% of patients survive 5 years. Most people do not survive longer than 6 months.
Calling your health care provider:
Call your health care provider if there is a persistent lump or mass in the neck, hoarseness, changing voice, cough or coughing up blood.