Anaplastic thyroid cancer and primary thyroid lymphoma: a review of these rare thyroid malignancies

J Surg Oncol. 2006 Dec 15;94(8):725-36. doi: 10.1002/jso.20691.


Background: To review the current literature on the treatment of anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) and thyroid lymphoma (TL).

Results: Both anaplastic carcinoma (ATC) and TL represent rare forms of thyroid cancer. ATC behaves in a highly aggressive manner, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Multimodality therapy consisting of both radiotherapy (RT) and chemotherapy is essential in obtaining local/regional control. Although ATC has been relatively chemo resistant, newer agents such like taxotere show promise. The role of surgery in the treatment of ATC continues to evolve, presently it should be reserved for patients who have shown an initial response to multimodality therapy and in patients in whom a complete macroscopic resection can be achieved with minimal morbidity. The successful treatment of TL currently lies in accurately diagnosing the histological subtype. Both large B-cell and mixed lymphomas are best treated with multimodality therapy consisting of CHOP combined with hyper-fractioned RT. MALT lymphomas with there more indolent course may be amenable to single modality RT or total thyroidectomy if diagnosed at an early stage IE.

Discussion: Although both ATC and TL are rare, it is important for surgeons to be aware of the need for multimodality therapy when treating these patients and to understand the limited role surgery plays in diagnosis and treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use*
  • Carcinoma* / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma* / pathology
  • Carcinoma* / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma* / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Doxorubicin / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma* / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma* / pathology
  • Lymphoma* / radiotherapy
  • Lymphoma* / surgery
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / drug therapy
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell, Marginal Zone / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prognosis
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy*
  • Vincristine / administration & dosage


  • Vincristine
  • Doxorubicin
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone

Supplementary concepts

  • CHOP protocol