ROCHESTER, Minn., June 1 (UPI) — U.S. cancer scientists say they’ve discovered aggressive treatment of anaplastic thyroid cancer can dramatically increase survival rates.
Mayo Clinic oncologists say the new approach reflects the need to aggressively treat metastasis even when the rare cancer seems to be confined to the neck. Historically, anaplastic thyroid cancer has been treated with surgery and radiation, but due to rapid spread of microscopic cancer, only up to 20 percent of patients survive more than a year. Because the prognosis for this cancer is so poor, Mayo physicians felt a more aggressive pilot approach that added earlier chemotherapy was merited.
Of 24 patients with newly diagnosed anaplastic thyroid cancer seen at Mayo Clinic between 2003 and 2007, 10 patients with local disease elected to pursue the aggressive approach. After surgery, the patients were treated with intensity modulated radiation therapy and with aggressive chemotherapy in efforts to simultaneously control disease in the neck and forestall metastasis.
One-year survival in the group was 70 percent, with six of the 10 patients alive at least two years post-treatment — five of them without evidence of disease. Two of those patients were treated more than three years ago and are still in remission.
The study — led by Drs. Keith Bible Robert Foote and Julian Molina — is to be presented in Chicago during the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
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