The International Journal of Romanian Society of Endocrinology / Registered in 1938

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October - December 2007, Volume 3, Issue 4
Case Report

Stanescu B, Miron R, Badiu C

Anaplastic carcinoma of the thyroid mimicking acute thyroiditis

Acta Endo (Buc) 2007, 3 (4): 493-502
doi: 10.4183/aeb.2007.493

We report a case of anaplastic thyroid carcinoma mimicking acute thyroiditis with skin necrosis. A 82 years woman, with no significant previous medical disorders, was admitted with a few weeks history of a painful rapidly enlarging neck mass associated with hoarseness, dysphagia to solids, dyspnea and a general state deterioration. Physical exam was significant for a left-anterior lateral neck tumor of about 7 cm. The mass was tender, firm, nonpulsatile and nonfluctuant; it was fixed to the underlying cervical tissues. Antero-cervical skin tissues were swollen, hyperemic, presenting necrosis with penetrating tendency, severe neck pain and tenderness, associated with fever, suggesting an acute thyroiditis. The thyroid function was normal (TSH = 0.81 mUI/L, TT3 = 62 ng/dL, TT4= 8.77 ug/dL) as well as antithyroid peroxidase antibody (0.5 UI/mL), while thyreoglobulin was high (384 ng/mL). Thyroid scintigram revealed a cold nodule. Thyroid ultrasound revealed a giant left thyroid mass with necrosis, lymph nodes involvement and displacement of trachea. Fine needle aspiration confirmed the clinical suspicion features of anaplastic thyroid cancer: mitoses, anisocytosis and marked anisokaryosis with enlarged nuclei. Computed tomography confirmed a voluminous mass involving the thyroid, with calcifications, necrosis with multiple latero-cervical lymph nodes, compressing right carotid artery and internal jugular vein; it was detected also a pulmonary metastasis (right medium pulmonary lobe). The patient was diagnosed on having a thyroid carcinoma of the anaplastic type, TNM stage IVc. Surgery was performed through cervical approach without sternotomy, by total thyroidectomy and resection of proximal cervical structures involved by the tumor mass. After surgery, the patient was started on levothyroxine 100 μg/ day and scheduled for cervical radiotherapy, but the tumor relapsed in several weeks. Local disease can be controlled with radiotherapy either alone or in combination with chemotherapy.

Keywords: Anaplastic thyroid cancer, thyroiditis, thyroidectomy

Correspondence: Corin Badiu,“C.I. Parhon” Institute of Endocrinology, 34-36 Bd. Aviatorilor, 011863, Bucharest, Romania, Phone/Fax: + 4021 3198718, e-mail: