MOFFITT ENDOCRINE REPORT PEARLS 3/15/17: Papillary and Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer!

Thanks to Nick for presenting a case about metastatic thyroid cancer. We discussed the relationship between the papillary and anaplastic types of thyroid cancer with Mark Anderson, our endocrine report expert. Pearls below!


Top Pearls:

  1. The majority of patients with papillary thyroid cancer do not die of their disease.
  2. Most/all patients with papillary thyroid cancer need surgical resection and postoperative levothyroxine, but only higher risk patients need radioiodine therapy.
  3. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is usually a transformation from more differentiated thyroid cancer and is rapidly fatal.


For those who want more info:

Papillary Thyroid Cancer:

Risk Factors: Childhood radiation exposure (e.g. dental radiation before we had lead thyroid shields!) and family history of thyroid cancer.

Presentation: A thyroid nodule noted by the patient, physician, or incidental radiologic finding. Size of the tumor, older age at diagnosis, histological subtype, and presence of invasion or metastasis are the main features associated with worse morbidity and mortality. <10% of patients have metastases beyond the neck at the time of diagnosis (2/3 are pulmonary, 1/4 are skeletal).

Prognosis: Most patients with papillary thyroid cancer do not die of their disease (only ~5% cancer-related mortality over 15 years).

Treatment: All patients should have surgical resection including part or all of the thyroid gland, depending on extent of disease. Postoperatively, patients are stratified based on risk factors for persistent/recurrent disease. Most patients require postoperative levothyroxine (T4) to suppress TSH (TSH goal depends on risk stratification). Higher risk patients also receive postoperative radioiodine. Surveillance includes neck ultrasound, TSH, and serum thyroglobulin (Tg) levels to detect recurrent disease.


Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer:

Presentation: Rapidly enlarging neck mass. 20% have a history of differentiated thyroid cancer, which is often present concurrently!

Differential diagnosis: poorly differentiated thyroid cancer, lymphoma, melanoma, and sarcoma.

Prognosis: Nearly always rapidly fatal.

Treatment: Complete surgical resection with postoperative chemoradiation, or chemoradiation alone if disease is inoperable. Commonly used agents are doxorubicin, docetaxel, and cisplatin. Clinical trial enrollment and concurrent palliative care are recommended.

*Pearl: All anaplastic carcinomas are considered stage IV, regardless of the extent of disease!

Transformation: Anaplastic thyroid cancer usually arises from transformation of a differentiated thyroid cancer, though it can occur de novo. Transformation typically occurs in the thyroid or cervical lymph nodes, but may rarely occur at metastatic sites.




Have a great day everyone!





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