Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is rare and has a poor prognosis. The aim of this study was to analyze the clinicopathologic characteristics of patients diagnosed with ATC expected to undergo curative thyroidectomy, with the goal of finding differences between patients surviving ≥6 months and <6 months.
From 1981 to 2010, 24 patients underwent thyroidectomy due to ATC. Among those patients, 12 suspected of distant metastasis preoperatively were excluded. The remaining 12 patients were analyzed by retrospective review of electronic medical records.
Median age was 55 years, and the male to female ratio was 1:5. All patients presented with neck mass at initial diagnosis. Five patients lived <6 months and seven patients lived ≥6 months after operation. In patients surviving ≥6 months, all lesions were <5 cm and all patients underwent total thyroidectomy. In patients surviving <6 months, two of the four lesions were >5 cm, and two of the five patients underwent less than total thyroidectomy (P = 0.287 and 0.152, respectively). All patients with lesion size <5 cm underwent total thyroidectomy and showed a shorter median operation time (P = 0.182 and 0.033, respectively).
ATC showed female predominance. Patients initially presented with neck mass, and median age was 55 years. In patients with ATC who are expected to undergo curative thyroidectomy, surgery should actively be considered as primary therapy for patient survival when the size is <5 cm.