Anaplastic thyroid cancer (patient information)
Anaplastic thyroid cancer
Anaplastic thyroid cancer On the Web
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Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is a rare and aggressive form of cancer of the thyroid gland.
What are the symptoms of Anaplastic thyroid cancer?
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness or changing voice
- Loud breathing
- Lower neck mass, often noted to be rapidly enlarging
What causes Anaplastic thyroid cancer?
- Genetic mutation is suspected to be the main cause of anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Who is at highest risk?
- A history of goiter
- Family history of thyroid disease
- Female gender
- Asian race
- A physical examination almost always show a neck mass.
- A CT scan or MRI of the neck may show a tumor growing from the thyroid gland.
- A thyroid biopsy shows anaplastic cancer.
- An examination of the airway with a fiberoptic scope (laryngoscopy) may show a paralyzed vocal cord.
- A thyroid scan shows this mass to be "cold," meaning it does not absorb a radioactive isotope.
- Thyroid function blood tests are usually normal.
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call your health care provider if there is a persistent lump or mass in the neck, hoarseness, changing voice, cough, or coughing up blood.
This type of cancer cannot be cured by surgery. For most patients, complete removal of the thyroid gland does not prolong their life.
Of other treatment options, only radiation therapy combined with chemotherapy give 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.
For some patients, enrolling in a clinical trial of new thyroid cancer treatments may be an option.
Where to find medical care for Anaplastic thyroid cancer?
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
The prognosis of this disease is poor. Most people do not survive longer than 6 months due to the aggressive nature of this disease and lack of effective treatment options.
- Spread of tumor within the neck
- Metastasis (spread) of cancer to other body tissues or organs