Key words Anaplastic
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract Background: Old age, reduced general condition and far advanced tumor stage associated with poor prognosis induced the belief that, apart from verifying the diagnosis of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) by biopsy, no additional surgery would be justified. However, in some cases, an ultraradical approach was recommended in order to improve the quality of life and survival. Methods: These are the results of a retrospective analysis involving 120 patients subjected to restricted radical surgery (excising as much as possible of the tumor and local metastases, foregoing ultraradical removal of vital organs such as esophagus, larynx and trachea). Results: Irrespective of the surgical approach used, 6±2% of the patients were alive after 5 years (median survival time: 3.1 months). Patients without tumor residues (R0-resections; extending to soft tissue only; Kaplan-Meier estimate – cumulative survival 15±5%) had a significantly better prognosis than patients with tumor residues (R1/R2-resections; no patient survived 5 years; P〈0.001). Tumor morphology (spindle cells, giant cells, mixed cells) or differentiated parts of the tumor as well as lymph-node involvement had no statistically significant impact on the prognosis. Conclusions: In ATC, the objective should be to remove as much of the carcinoma as possible (in the ideal case, a thyroidectomy); if lymph nodes are affected, neck dissection should be the goal, if possible (restricted radical approach, improving quality of life). Ultradical surgery to include segmental resection of larynx, trachea or esophagus do not seem to be indicated, as prolonged survival is questionable and quality of life is certainly diminished.
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