Multimodality Treatment Improves Locoregional Control, Progression-Free and Overall Survival in Patients with Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer: A Retrospective Cohort Study Comparing Oncological Outcomes and Morbidity between Multimodality Treatment and Limited Treatment

Ann Surg Oncol. 2021 Nov;28(12):7520-7530. doi: 10.1245/s10434-021-10146-3. Epub 2021 May 25.


Background: Patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) have poor overall survival, and the optimal management approach remains unclear. The aim of this study is to evaluate our experience with multimodality (MMT) versus limited treatment (LT) for ATC.

Patients and methods: A cohort study of patients with ATC managed in a tertiary referral center was undertaken. The outcomes of MMT were compared with those of LT. The primary outcome measures were locoregional control and progression-free and overall survival. Secondary outcome measures were treatment-related complications and factors associated with improved survival.

Results: In total, 59 patients (35 females) with a median age of 73 years (range 39-99 years) and ATC stage IVA (n = 2), IVB (n = 28), or IVC (n = 29) were included. LT was utilized in 25 patients (42%), and 34 cases had MMT. MMT patients had a longer time of locoregional control (18.5 versus 1.9 months; p < 0.001), progression-free survival (3.5 versus 1.2 months; p < 0.001), and overall survival (6.9 versus 2.0 months; p < 0.001) when compared with LT. For patients with stage IVC ATC, locoregional control (p = 0.03), progression-free survival (p < 0.001), and overall survival (p < 0.001) were superior in the MMT cohort compared with LT. MMT had more treatment-related complications than LT (p < 0.001). An Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status < 2 (HR 0.30; p = 0.001) and MMT (HR 0.35; p = 0.008) were associated with improved overall survival.

Conclusion: MMT is likely to improve locoregional control, progression-free survival, and overall survival in selected ATC patients including stage IVC tumors but comes with a greater complication risk.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Morbidity
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Thyroid Carcinoma, Anaplastic* / surgery
  • Thyroid Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Thyroidectomy