Background: Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is among the most aggressive human malignancies. It is associated with a high rate of local recurrence and with poor prognosis.
Methods: We retrospectively reviewed 44 consecutive patients treated between 1996 and 2010 at Leon Berard Cancer Centre, Lyon, France. The combined treatment strategy derived from the one developed at the Institut Gustave Roussy included total thyroidectomy and cervical lymph-node dissection, when feasible, combined with 2 cycles of doxorubicin (60 mg/m2) and cisplatin (100 mg/m2) Q3W, hyperfractionated (1.2 Gy twice daily) radiation to the neck and upper mediastinum (46-50 Gy), and then four cycles of doxorubicin-cisplatin.
Results: Thirty-five patients received the three-phase combined treatment. Complete response after treatment was achieved in 14/44 patients (31.8%). Eight patients had a partial response (18.2%). Twenty-two (50%) had progressive disease. All patients with metastases at diagnosis died shortly afterwards. Thirteen patients are still alive. The median survival of the entire population was 8 months.
Conclusion: Despite the ultimately dismal prognosis of ATC, multimodality treatment significantly improves local control and appears to afford long-term survival in some patients. There is active ongoing research, and results obtained with new targeted systemic treatment appear encouraging.