Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Successfully Treated With Radiation and Immunotherapy: A Case Report

Shuen Ru Yang, Mu Hung Tsai, Chung Jye Hung, Shu Ling Peng, Nan Tsing Chiu, Yu Hui Huang, Hui Jen Tsai

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8 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare thyroid cancer subtype with a devastating prognosis. Novel treatment strategies are under investigation to improve the survival of patients with ATC. Methods: We present a case of recurrent ATC treated with a combination of radiation therapy (RT) and pembrolizumab, a programmed death-1 inhibitor, with a durable complete response. Results: A 63-year-old woman underwent total thyroidectomy and left neck lymph node dissection and was diagnosed with papillary carcinoma in December, 2017. She received radioiodine in April, 2018. However, a left neck mass was noted in April, 2018 with biopsy demonstrating ATC with 95% positivity for programmed death-ligand 1 immunostaining. Positron emission tomography showed fluorodeoxyglucose uptake in the left thyroid bed and multiple lymph nodes in the left retropharyngeal, left neck, and right upper paratracheal areas. Hypofractionated RT for the recurrent areas was initiated in August,2018, and concomitant pembrolizumab was given 2 days after RT. A total of 10 cycles of pembrolizumab (2 mg/kg) were given every 3 weeks. The computed tomography scan after completion of RT and 3 cycles of pembrolizumab showed shrinkage of the neck lymph nodes. The serial follow-up computed tomography scans showed further shrinkage of the lymph nodes, and there was no recurrence of ATC as of October, 2020. Conclusion: We describe an ATC case successfully treated with a combination of RT and pembrolizumab with a durable response of 26 months and acceptable toxicities. This result warrants further investigation of this combination regimen in the treatment of ATC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-302
Number of pages4
JournalAACE Clinical Case Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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