Vol 26, No 3 (2021)
Research paper
Published online: 2021-03-26

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Anaplastic thyroid cancer: outcomes of trimodal therapy

Orla A. Houlihan1, Richard Moore1, Muhammad F. Jamaluddin1, Adrinda Sharifah2, Henry Paul Redmond3, Seamus O’Reilly4, Linda Feeley56, Patrick Sheahan2, Kathy Rock16
Rep Pract Oncol Radiother 2021;26(3):416-422.


BACKROUND: The purpose of this study is to assess the impact of trimodal therapy [surgery, chemotherapy and external beam radiotherapy (EBRT)] in patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) treated with curative intent.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Retrospective review of patients with ATC treated at a tertiary referral centre between January 2009 and June 2020. Data were collected regarding demographics, histology, staging, treatment and outcomes.

RESULTS: Seven patients (4 female) were identified. Median age was 58 years (range 52–83 years). All patients received EBRT with concurrent doxorubicin. Six patients received surgery followed by chemoradiotherapy (CRT), and one underwent neoadjuvant CRT followed by surgery. Median radiological tumour size was 50mm (range 40–90 mm). Six patients had gross extrathyroidal extension and three had N1b disease. Prescribed radiotherapy schedules were 46.4 Gy in 29 bidaily fractions (n = 2, treated 2010), 60 Gy in 30 daily fractions (n = 2), 66Gy in 30 fractions (n = 2) and 70 Gy in 35 fractions (n = 1; patient received neoadjuvant CRT). CRT was discontinued early for two patients due to toxicities. At median follow up of 5.8 months, 42.9% (3/7) patients were alive and disease-free. Only one patient developed a local failure. Three patients died from distant metastases without locoregional recurrence.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite poor prognosis of ATC, selected patients with operable tumours may achieve high locoregional control rates with trimodal therapy, with possibility of long-term survival in select cases.

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