Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is a rare and highly aggressive type of thyroid cancer that accounts for only 1-2% of all thyroid cancers. It is considered one of the most lethal cancers, with a median survival time of less than 6 months, and is often diagnosed at advanced stages due to its rapid growth and early spread to nearby organs.
ATC arises from the follicular cells of the thyroid gland, which are responsible for producing hormones that regulate metabolism. The exact cause of ATC is unknown, but it is thought to be associated with genetic mutations, exposure to radiation, and a history of thyroid disease. Current treatment options for ATC are limited, and there is an urgent need for more effective therapies to improve the prognosis of this disease.
A group of researchers tried a treatment approach by combining two drugs: paclitaxel and pazopanib. They did a clinical trial to see if this combination of drugs could help people with this cancer live longer.
The clinical trial was done by a group called NRG Oncology. They enrolled 89 patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer from 34 medical centers in the United States. These patients were randomly split into two groups. One group received the drug combination of paclitaxel and pazopanib, while the other group received a placebo (a dummy pill that looked like the real drug but had no active ingredients). The goal was to compare the survival rates of these two groups.
The results of the trial showed that the drug combination was safe to use. In the group that received paclitaxel and pazopanib, 88.9% of patients had grade 3-5 side effects, which were similar to the side effects experienced by the group that received the placebo (85.3%). The most common side effects were dysphagia (trouble swallowing), radiation dermatitis (skin irritation), and liver enzyme elevations. However, there were some serious side effects such as dehydration and thromboembolic events (a blood clot that travels to the lungs), but they were not more frequent in the group that received the drug combination.