Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma: three protocols combining doxorubicin, hyperfractionated radiotherapy and surgery

Br J Cancer. 2002 Jun 17;86(12):1848-53. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600361.


Patients with anaplastic thyroid carcinoma can rarely be cured, but every effort should be made to prevent death due to suffocation. Between 1984 and 1999, 55 consecutive patients with anaplastic thyroid carcinoma were prospectively treated according to a combined regimen consisting of hyperfractionated radiotherapy, doxorubicin, and when feasible surgery. Radiotherapy was carried out for 5 days a week. The daily fraction until 1988 was 1.0 Gyx2 (A) and 1989-92 1.3 Gyx2 (B). Thereafter 1.6 Gyx2 (C) was administered. Radiotherapy was administered to a total target dose of 46 Gy; of which 30 Gy was administered preoperatively in the first two protocols (A and B), while the whole dose was given preoperatively in the third protocol (C). The therapy was otherwise identical. Twenty mg doxorubicin was administered intravenously weekly. Surgery was possible in 40 patients. No patient failed to complete the protocol due to toxicity. In only 13 cases (24%) was death attributed to local failure. Five patients (9%) 'had a survival' exceeding 2 years. No signs of local recurrence were seen in 33 patients (60%); 5 out of 16 patients in Protocol A, 11 out of 17 patients in Protocol B, 17 out of 22 patients in Protocol C (P=0.017). In the 40 patients undergoing additional surgery, no signs of local recurrence were seen in 5 out of 9 patients, 11 out of 14 patients and 17 out of 17 patients, respectively (P=0.005).

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma / mortality
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / therapy*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dose Fractionation, Radiation*
  • Doxorubicin / therapeutic use*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Postoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Survival Rate
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / mortality
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Thyroidectomy*


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • Doxorubicin