Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Affects the thyroid, and the hormones within it

What is ATC?

Anaplastic thyroid cancer, or ATC, is a type of thyroid cancer which quickly invades the thyroid and its surrounding tissue. Any anaplastic disease usually has a main feature... an anaplastic tumor. These tumors usually have a high mitotic rate (numer of cells that turn into cancer tissue), and lymphvascular invasion (spread of cancer to the bloodstream).

This type of tumor will cause a disruption in the production of the hormones T3 (triidothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). It may even cause the thyroid to stop production all together. Upon diagnosis, the patient usually has a short time to live.


  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Hoarseness or changing of voice
  • Loud breathing
  • Lower neck lump, which often grows quickly

What happens to the body?

The thyroid is the main body part affected by this disease. The cells it consists of will lose normal structure and organization over a quick amount of time. The hormones then will cease to work or fail to operate correctly.

Since the thyroid mainly affects your metabolism, this tumor will cause difficulties with metabolic normality. Major issues that result from this condition include less control of body weight and issues with energy levels.

Other surrounding areas will be affected by the anaplastic thyroid cancer as well. Since the tumor will enlarge quickly, the trachea is almost always the body part impacted. The constriction in space will cause the trachea to tighten and affect breathing patterns. This symptom is usually a signal of immediate action or treatment to rid of the tumor.

The other main body part affected by the enlarging tumor is the larynx. The constriction of this part of the throat will cause the voice to change. This is because the larynx is really the human's voice box, because it contains the vocal cords.

The thyroid has normally reached a point where it cannot repair itself and the hormones must be created through medicine or intense treatment of the thyroid.

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“Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is an aggressive form of cancer of the thyroid gland. It is one of the fastest growing tumors in humans.”


There are only three types of treatment that have affect on ATC:

Surgery - a last minute resort, surgery is issued in order to fully remove the thyroid in order to stop the tumor. This will not prolong the patients life or help the body return back to normal.

Chemotherapy - the most common type of treatment for many types of cancers, it is a radiation-based treatment to kill cancer cells. The anaplastic tumor might not be affected but it may help stop the tumor from growing.

External-beam radiation - this type of treatment involves the use of a high-energy x-ray machine to direct radiation to tumors or cancer masses. This does have some affect on anaplastic thyroid cancer, but involves constant... and tiring use.

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Jacob Janssen