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Head Neck. 2007 Aug;29(8):765-72.

Prognostic factors for Korean patients with anaplastic thyroid carcinoma.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC), although rare, is one of the most aggressive human cancers, and patients with ATC have extremely poor prognoses despite various therapeutic measures. We wished to determine the prognostic factors of survival and effect of treatment on survival rate in patients with ATC.


We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of the 121 patients (41 men and 80 women) diagnosed with ATC from January 1995 to June 2004 at 5 major referral centers in Korea.


Mean patient age at diagnosis was 64 +/- 11 years (range, 17-84 years). Of the 121 patients, 11 (9%) had intrathyroidal tumors, 69 (57%) had extrathyroidal tumors or lymph node involvement, 29 (24%) had distant metastases, and 12 had no data about staging (9%). The mean tumor diameter was 5.5 +/- 2.5 cm (range, 0.5-17.0 cm). At a median follow-up of 41 months (range, 26-122 months), 8 patients were alive. Median survival time was 5.1 months. The disease-specific survival rates were 42% at 6 months, 16% at 12 months, and 9% at 24 months. Sixteen patients (13%) received only supportive care, 25 (21%) received surgery alone, 20 (16%) received radiation treatment or chemotherapy without surgery, and 60 (50%) received surgery plus radiation treatment or chemotherapy. Multivariate analysis showed that age less than 60 years, tumor size less than 7 cm, and lesser extent of disease were independent predictors of lower disease-specific mortality.


Long-term survival is possible for ATC patients less than 60 years old and with small localized tumors. Although aggressive multimodal therapy, including surgery, radiation treatment, and chemotherapy, was not significantly associated with improved survival, we advocate aggressive multimodal therapy in selected ATC patients with good prognostic factors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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