This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) accounts for less than 2% of all thyroid cancers and is the most aggressive type of thyroid cancer. Most cases of anaplastic thyroid cancer are diagnosed in the sixth to seventh decade of life. Women are more likely to be affected than men. ATC generally occurs in individuals with a history of goiter or thyroid cancer. A history of head and neck radiation or exposure to radioactive materials may also increase the risk for ATC. Patients with ATC generally present with a rapidly-growing neck mass which may cause trouble swallowing (dysphagia), coughing, neck pain, and trouble breathing (dyspnea). Metastasis is present in more than half of individuals at the time of diagnosis. Patients with metastases may also present with bone pain, lymph node enlargement, weakness, and neurological deficits. Treatment of ATC is mostly palliative.
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