Anaplastic thyroid cancer: causes and main symptoms

The thyroid gland is very complex in its structure and the nature of the functions performed by the body, therefore, neoplasms developing on it can vary significantly in their structure and causes. One of the varieties of low-grade thyroid tumors is anaplastic cancer. And although this option is quite rare, it, unfortunately, almost never gives the patient a chance to get rid of the disease. 

This type of neoplasm is characterized by the ability to very rapid development and extensive metastasis, the tumor grows in size literally every day. The risk group includes, first of all, elderly men.

The main reasons for the development

Reliably the causes of its occurrence have not yet been established, but, nevertheless, a number of factors have been identified that determine the person’s predisposition to the development of this tumor:

  • radiation exposure;
  • insufficient amount of iodine in the body;
  •  the presence of neoplasms of the thyroid gland of a benign nature (cyst, goiter, adenoma, etc.);
  • weakened immunity.

Studies have shown that anaplastic cancer can develop in a person who has been exposed to radiation several decades ago. Also, in patients with a similar type of tumor, it is often possible to detect nodes or other benign neoplasms in the thyroid gland that develop for a long time.

Characteristic manifestations of the disease

Quite often, this thyroid neoplasm is detected visually by the patient himself, who draws attention to a noticeable and rapidly growing tumor on the neck. In addition, anaplastic thyroid cancer is characterized by a number of characteristic symptoms, such as:

  • a significant change in the size of the lymph nodes, accompanied by sharp pain;
  •  difficulty swallowing;
  •  voice change;
  •  cough not caused by a cold;
  •  dyspnea;
  • fever;
  • fast fatiguability;
  • irritability, etc.

With the advanced form of the disease, the functions of the gland itself are significantly impaired by the type of hypothyroidism. In addition, metastases often spread to the trachea, as well as the lungs, esophagus, liver, etc. Can be observed metastasis in the bones of the skull, spine, pelvis, ribs, etc.

The greatest danger of the disease lies in the fact that its detection, as a rule, occurs in the late stages of development, when the surgical intervention loses its usefulness due to deep lesions of vital organs. Similarly, radiation and chemotherapy courses are ineffective.

Treatment methods

If the tumor can be diagnosed in the early stages, the patient is prescribed a surgical operation with subsequent courses of radiation and chemotherapy. This type of surgical intervention is called total thyrectomy. However, due to the active growth of the tumor and the rapid spread of metastases, the effectiveness of this method is most often insignificant.

For inoperable patients, radiation therapy and medications that have a supportive effect are indicated. In addition, hormone therapy is used to stabilize hormone levels.

All these methods of treatment, however, make it possible only to temporarily take the disease under control, prolonging a person’s life for one to two years. A complete cure for this form of cancer, unfortunately, is currently not possible.

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