Cancer that forms in the thyroid gland (an organ at the base of the throat that makes hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight). Four main types of thyroid cancer are papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. The four types are based on how the cancer cells look under a microscope.
Most often the first symptom of thyroid cancer is a nodule in the thyroid region of the neck. However, many adults have small nodules in their thyroids, but typically under 5% of these nodules are found to be malignant. Sometimes the first sign is an enlarged lymph node. Later symptoms that can be present are pain in the anterior region of the neck and changes in voice due to an involvement of the recurrent laryngeal nerve.
Thyroid cancers can be classified according to their histopathological characteristics. The following variants can be distinguished (distribution over various subtypes may show regional variation):
Papillary thyroid cancer – often in young females – excellent prognosis. May occur in women with familial adenomatous polyposis and in patients with Cowden syndrome.
Follicular thyroid cancer; occasionally seen in patients with Cowden syndrome
Medullary thyroid cancer - cancer of the parafollicular cells, often part of multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2.
Poorly differentiated thyroid cancer
Anaplastic thyroid cancer. It is not responsive to treatment and can cause pressure symptoms.
Squamous cell thyroid carcinoma
Sarcoma of thyroid
The follicular and papillary types together can be classified as "differentiated thyroid cancer". These types have a more favorable prognosis than the medullary and undifferentiated types.
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