Anaplastic thyroid cancer (patient information)
Anaplastic thyroid cancer
Anaplastic thyroid cancer On the Web
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Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland. Signs of thyroid cancer include swelling or lump in the neck. Age, gender, and being exposed to radiation can affect the risk of thyroid cancer. Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.
What are the symptoms of Anaplastic thyroid cancer?
- Coughing up blood
- Difficulty swallowing
- Hoarseness or changing the voice
- Loud breathing
- Lower neck mass, often noted to be rapidly enlarging
What causes Anaplastic thyroid cancer?
Who is at highest risk?
- A history of goiter
- Family history of thyroid disease
- Female gender
- Asian race
- Age between 25 and 65 years old.
- Exposure to radiation to the head and neck as an infant or child or being exposed to radioactive fallout
- A physical examination almost always shows 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?
- Treatment may include the following:
- Total thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid gland) as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients whose cancer is in or near the thyroid
- Tracheostomy as palliative therapy to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life
- External radiation therapy
- Targeted therapy with protein kinase inhibitors (dabrafenib and trametinib) for patients with a certain mutation in the BRAF gene
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.
- The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
- The age at the time of diagnosis
- The stage of the cancer
- The patient's general health