Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer
Anaplastic thyroid cancer, also called undifferentiated thyroid cancer, is very rare and makes up only 1 to 2% of all thyroid cancers. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is more common in older people (with an average age of about 60) and is more common in women than in men. It is not known what causes anaplastic thyroid cancer, but often well-differentiated thyroid cancers can degenerate and turn into anaplastic thyroid cancer. The main risk factors for anaplastic cancer include an age greater than 65, history of radiation exposure to the chest or neck, and/or a long-standing goiter (i.e. enlarged thyroid). Unfortunately, anaplastic thyroid cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers in humans and is often lethal. Tragically, the five year survival from this type of cancer is less than 5%, with most patients dying within just a few months of the diagnosis. However, with new advances in treatment, there has been progress in helping patients with this disease.
Microscopic views of normal thyroid tissue versus anaplastic cancer