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Types of Thyroid Cancer

Papillary and Follicular Types of Thyroid Cancer

Papillary and follicular types of thyroid cancer account for 80 to 90 percent of all thyroid cancer cases. These thyroid cancer types:
  • Begin in the follicular cells of the thyroid
  • Grow slowly
  • Can usually be treated successfully if they are detected early.

Medullary Thyroid Cancer

Medullary thyroid cancer accounts for 5 to 10 percent of thyroid cancer cases. This type of thyroid cancer arises in C cells and is easier to control if it is found and treated before it spreads to other parts of the body.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the least common type of thyroid cancer and accounts for only 1 to 2 percent of cases. This thyroid cancer arises in follicular cells and is highly abnormal and difficult to recognize. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is usually hard to control because the cancer cells tend to grow and spread quickly.

Metastatic Types of Thyroid Cancer

If thyroid cancer spreads (metastasizes) outside the thyroid, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes, nerves, blood vessels, or other organs (such as the lungs). When cancer spreads from its original location to another part of the body, the new tumor will have the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if thyroid cancer spreads to the lungs, the cancer cells in the lungs are thyroid cancer cells. The disease is metastatic thyroid cancer, not lung cancer, and it will be treated as thyroid cancer, not lung cancer. Doctors will sometimes call the new tumor "distant," or metastatic, disease.
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Thyroid Cancer Information

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