Clinico-Pathological Profile of Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma in an Endemic Goiter Area

Indian J Endocrinol Metab. Nov-Dec 2018;22(6):793-797. doi: 10.4103/ijem.IJEM_264_18.


Introduction: Anaplastic thyroid cancers (ATCs) usually present in the sixth to seventh decades of life and little is known about the disease in young patients. The aim was to analyze the clinicopathological characteristics diagnosed with ATC in an iodine-deficient area.

Material and methods: The medical records of 100 patients diagnosed with ATC at a tertiary care hospital between 1991 and 2013 were reviewed.

Results: The mean age of patient was 58 years. About 34 patients were ≤50 years. The common presentation was that of a rapidly growing fixed and hard mass (64%). Due to rapid expansion, 27% patients experienced severe pain. About one-third presented as sudden enlargement of pre-existing goiter over few weeks. The median duration of symptoms before diagnosis was 3 months. About 41% presented with lymph node enlargement and 31% with distant metastasis. The diagnosis was established with fine-needle aspiration or core biopsy. Histopathology was available in 32 patients and showed four major patterns: spindle cell (9), giant cell (7), epithelioid (5), squamoid (1), mixed type in 10 patients. Eight patients presenting with stridor required emergency tracheostomy for airway control. Total thyroidectomy with or without lymph node dissection was possible in 21 patients. Patients received radiotherapy with or without chemotherapy. Median overall survival was 3 months. Overall survival was significantly better in patients receiving some form of treatment.

Conclusion: ATC in endemic goiter areas presents at an earlier age. One-third of ATC is due to anaplastic transformation of pre-existing goiter and majority of the patients refuse treatment due to dismal outcome.

Keywords: Anaplastic; carcinoma; thyroid.