What Is Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer?

Anaplastic thyroid cancer, the most uncommon form of thyroid cancer, is a malignancy that develops in the thyroid gland. Only 1 percent of all thyroid cancer cases are anaplastic. It is also recognized as the most aggressive type of thyroid cancer. Because it often spreads rapidly and is difficult to treat, early detection is key to achieving the best possible prognosis. The most common sign of anaplastic thyroid cancer is a hard, growing mass on the neck.

Causes of anaplastic thyroid cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer may develop from a goiter (a noncancerous enlargement of the thyroid) or another type of thyroid malignancy. It is also connected to radiation exposure, sometimes occurring several years after the initial contact. Adults over age 65 make up the large majority of anaplastic thyroid cancer cases. 

Anaplastic thyroid cancer treatment options

Treating anaplastic thyroid cancer requires an aggressive approach that may include surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Many treatment plans focus on reducing symptoms and maintaining quality of life. Although anaplastic thyroid cancer can rarely be cured, it is important not to get discouraged. There are long-term survivors of this disease, and several research initiatives are currently being conducted to improve outcomes for anaplastic thyroid cancer patients.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Endocrine Oncology Program provides multispecialty treatment and well-rounded supportive care to patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer. As a high-volume cancer center, Moffitt has oncologists specializing in thyroid cancer who regularly see even the most uncommon and complex malignancies. This unique level of physician experience leads directly to better outcomes and enhanced quality of life for our patients, who also benefit from the latest advances in treatment and groundbreaking clinical trials. In fact, our ambitious research efforts have resulted in our prestigious designation as a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer patients who would like to consult with a Moffitt physician can complete a new patient registration form online or call 1-888-663-3488. A referral is not required to visit Moffitt.