Home About Thyroid Cancer
About Thyroid Cancer
Sunday, 01 March 2009 16:26

What is thyroid cancer?


Thyroid cancer is the abnormal growth of thyroid tissue or thyroid related tissue that can invade surrounding tissue or spread throughout the body (malignant.)  Thyroid cancer is the most common cancer of the endocrine system.  The majority of thyroid cancers are considered well differentiated (WDTC) thyroid cancers.  These thyroid carcinomas are slow growing and have a low probability to spread throughout the body.  This is what makes the prognosis for most thyroid carcinomas excellent. 


There are about 35,000 new cases of thyroid cancer diagnosed per year and 1500 deaths from thyroid cancer per year.1  Thyroid cancer is the seventh most common cancer among women and accounts for 2% of all cancers.2  Interestingly, occurrence of thyroid cancers has shown an increasing trend in united states.   If you have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer remember that majority of thyroid carcinomas are very treatable and typically have an excellent prognosis with a normal life expectancy. 


Being diagnosed with thyroid cancer is very scary.  However, most thyroid cancer can easily be treated with surgery and radioactive iodine treatment with high success rates.  Also, thyroid cancer is unlikely to produce pain or disabilities.  The available treatments are effective and well tolerated.  Overall, thyroid cancers have a very good prognosis for recovery and longevity.  It is often said that “if you had to get a cancer, this is the one to get.”


Types of thyroid cancer


Papillary carcinoma – Accounts for 70% of thyroid cancers.  This is the most common type of thyroid cancer as well as the least dangerous type of thyroid cancer.   It is slow growing and spreads slowly.  It is also the most treatable and has the best prognosis.  If you had to get cancer this is the cancer to get!


Follicular carcinoma- Accounts for 10-15% of thyroid cancers.  This cancer is more aggressive and more likely to spread as compared with papillary carcinoma.  However, the prognosis is still very good.


Medullary carcinoma- Accounts for 5-10%.  This cancer is of non-thyroid cells.  It does not respond well to traditional radioactive iodine treatment.  This cancer tends to run in the family.  Medullary carcinoma is more aggressive then both papillary and follicular carcinoma.  The prognosis is good.


Anaplastic carcinoma- Accounts for 3-5 % of thyroid cancers.  This cancer is the most aggressive and most dangerous form of thyroid cancer.  It spreads quickly and invades nearby structures.  It does not respond to traditional radioactive iodine treatment. The prognosis is poor.


(These statistics varied slightly in the literature.)


Last Updated on Saturday, 02 February 2013 14:17

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