Thyroid Cancer Main Page
Thyroid cancer refers to any of four kinds of tumors of the thyroid gland which include papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic tumors. Papillary and follicular tumors are the most common and are usually benign. Papillary and follicular tumors have a slow growth and may recur, but are generally not fatal in patients under 45 years of age. Medullary and anaplastic tumors are malignant. Medullary tumors have a good prognosis if the are restricted to the thyroid gland and a poorer prognosis if metastasis occurs. Anaplastic tumors are fast-growing and respond poorly to therapy. Thyroid nodules are diagnosed by ultrasound guided fine needle aspiration or frequently by thyroidectomy (surgical removal and subsequent histological examination). As the thyroid cancer can uptake iodine, radioactive iodine is commonly used for the treatment of thyroid carcinomas. However, radioactive iodine therapy is accompanied by thyroxine therapy to ensure TSH suppression.
Thyroid cancers can be classified according to their pathological characteristics. The following variants can be distinguished (distribution over various subtypes may show regional variation):
- Papillary thyroid cancer (75%, including mixed papillary/follicular)
- Follicular thyroid cancer (16%)
- Medullary thyroid cancer (5-7%)
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer (3%)
- Lymphoma (1%)