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Purpose of review: Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the most aggressive solid tumor known to humans. Even when found in a localized form, the prognosis is grave. For metastatic disease, there has been little effect on survival using traditional chemotherapy.

Recent findings: Over a five-decade interval, there has been little progress in the treatment of this malignancy. However, targeted agents represent a new mode of treatment, and some studies have shown encouraging preclinical results. Combretastatin has shown activity in phase 1 and phase II trials; although the registration phase III study failed to meet its accrual goals, it did appear to show some benefit, especially in younger patients.

Summary: Combinations of this compound and other targeted agents may prove to be a breakthrough in an otherwise untreatable cancer.

(C) 2013 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.