Anaplastic carcinoma is a very aggressive type of thyroid cancer.
It is very rare, account for less than 2 percent of all thyroid cancers. It is more common in the elderly.
The symptoms are usually experienced as a very fast-growing and firm thyroid mass, as well as hoarseness. Hoarseness indicates that the vocal cords have been affected.
Prognosis and treatment
Unfortunately, anaplastic carcinoma often spreads. The overall five-year survival rate is less than 10 percent.
Surgical management generally consists of performing a tracheostomy to secure the airway.
Occasionally, the tumor may be discovered in early stages as early transformation of papillary thyroid cancer into anaplastic carcinoma. In these cases, aggressive surgery is performed.
External beam radiotherapy may be performed to slow growth of the tumor, and there are new chemotherapeutic agents that have shown encouraging results in this very aggressive tumor. The most common site of distant metastasis is the lungs, with the
bone and brain also being fairly common.
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