Author(s): Sugitani I, Kasai N, Fujimoto Y, Yanagisawa A
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Abstract Although anaplastic thyroid carcinoma (ATC) is one of the most aggressive malignancies, a few patients survive for a fairly long time after modern intensive treatment. We tried to identify prognostic factors of ATC to assist in deciding on the proper therapeutic strategy in individual patients. Of 47 patients with ATC (1976-1999), 3 patients with "incidental" ATC (largely differentiated thyroid carcinoma with a small region of ATC) were excluded because they had a favorable outcome. The 1-year survival rate of the remaining 44 patients with clinically distinct ATC was 16\%. The presence of acute symptoms, large tumor (> 5 cm), distant metastasis, and leukocytosis (white blood cell count > or = 10,000/mm3) proved to be significant risk factors. Multivariate analysis by the Cox proportional hazard model showed that these four factors were independent factors for predicting death from ATC. We devised a novel prognostic index (PI) based on the number of these four unfavorable characteristics the patient possessed. Patients with a PI of < or =1 had a 62\% survival rate at 6 months, whereas no patients with a PI of > or =3 survived longer than 6 months. All patients with a PI of 4 died from their disease within 3 months. Nine patients received multimodal treatment with a combination of surgery, external irradiation, and chemotherapy and had a long survival (mean 333 +/- 68 days; one patient is still alive and tumor-free), with a mean PI of 0.6. Our PI is useful as a means of selecting patients for aggressive therapy. When the PI is low, multimodal treatment should be attempted to obtain the best survival results; if it is high most patients are too seriously ill to tolerate intensive treatment and palliative therapy is recommended.
This article was published in World J Surg
and referenced in Journal of Thyroid Disorders & Therapy