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Cancer Control. 2006 Apr;13(2):119-28.

Poorly differentiated and anaplastic thyroid cancer.

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Department of Surgery, Stony Brook University Hospital, Stony Brook, New York, USA.



Poorly differentiated thyroid carcinoma (PDTC) and anaplastic (undifferentiated) thyroid carcinoma (ATC) comprise a small subset of thyroid tumors that are associated with a poor prognosis and account for a significant portion of the morbidity and mortality related to thyroid cancer. Since management strategies vary between these two entities, it is important for clinicians to be able to differentiate PDTC from ATC.


We reviewed the literature on PDTC and ATC and compared clinical and histopathologic features important in defining the disease process.


Both PDTC and ATC display aggressive behavior with increased locoregional and distant disease. In most cases, patients are older and have large, locally advanced tumors. PDTC may represent an intermediate entity in the progression of well-differentiated thyroid carcinoma to ATC. The use of surgical management may be curative or palliative and differs between PDTC and ATC. The roles of radiotherapy and chemotherapy have not been well described.


PDTC and ATC are rare diseases that carry a poor prognosis. Recognition of their different clinicopathologic features is important to the optimal management of these tumors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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