Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Overview, Causes

Alternate Names : Anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid

Definition

Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is an aggressive form of cancer of the thyroid gland.

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Anaplastic thyroid cancer grows very rapidly and is an invasive type of thyroid cancer. It occurs most often in people over age 60. The cause is unknown. Thyroid function tests are usually normal. Anaplastic cancer accounts for only about 1% of all thyroid cancers and is a very rare disease.

Pictures & Images

Thyroid cancer – CT scan

This CT scan of the upper chest (thorax) shows a malignant thyroid tumor (cancer). The dark area around the trachea (marked by the white U-shaped tip of the respiratory tube) is an area where normal tissue has been eroded and died (necrosis) as a result of tumor growth.

Thyroid gland

Thyroid gland

The thyroid gland, a part of the endocrine (hormone) system, plays a major role in regulating the body’s metabolism.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Overview, Causes

Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Symptoms & Signs, Diagnosis & Tests

Anaplastic thyroid cancer: Treatment


Review Date : 4/29/2009
Reviewed By : Deborah Wexler, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Endocrinologist, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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