- Papillary Carcinoma
- Where's the Cancer?
- Importance of The Pyramidal Lobe
- A Two-Fer Sale
- Taking The Easy Way Out...
- The Trouble with Follicular Tumors
- It quacks like a duck, but it isn't.....
- Thyroid Lymphoma
- You Have Some Nerve!!
- A Big One
- Graves' Disease
- Size Does Matter
- Hurthle Cell Carcinoma of the Thyroid
- Hashimoto's Thyroiditis with Right Sided Aorta
- From Russia with love....
- "Subcentimeter Nodule" the Red-Headed Step-Child of Ultrasonography
Anaplastic Carcinoma or Lymphoma of the Thyroid
Anaplastic Carcinoma presents with extreme, rapid growth.
This cancer is rather rare, and that is a good thing because it can be quite lethal in a rather short period of time. It is usually found in the older patient population, but it is not rare to see it in one’s 50’s from time to time. The main tip off to diagnosis is the extreme rate of growth. These tumors can literally double in size within a week or two. Rapid growth like that should immediately make the doctor suspicious of anaplastic carcinoma or lymphoma of the thyroid.
Unfortunately, by the time the diagnosis is established, it is frequently too late to cure the disease. Often we won’t even attempt to remove the tumor because we know it will be wrapped around and invading so many important adjacent structures that its removal is simply unrealistic, and frankly too dangerous. In other words, the risk/benefit ratio is just not there to justify an attempt at surgical removal. Tracheostomy is often used, however, to ensure an adequate air supply while radiation and chemotherapy are employed to palliate the patient. Precious time can sometimes be purchased in this manner.
Distant metastasis occur frequently, but the speed and aggression of the tumor in the neck make this point somewhat moot.
We often find areas of the more common papillary or follicular cancer ensconced within some of these anaplastic tumors, and this raises the question as to whether or not this aggressive and lethal cancer might have started as a less virulent form of thyroid cancer. This theory, if correct, would certainly push for earlier removal of all questionable thyroid tumors.