Understanding the Different Types of Thyroid Cancer

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Thyroid cancer is an increasingly diagnosed form of cancer affecting the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. While thyroid cancer is generally considered treatable, understanding its various types is crucial for accurate diagnosis, treatment planning, and prognosis. Discussed below are the different types of thyroid cancer and their characteristics.

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Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma (PTC)

Papillary thyroid carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer, accounting for approximately 80% of cases. It typically grows slowly and often presents as a single or multiple nodules within the thyroid tissue.

Follicular Thyroid Carcinoma (FTC)

Follicular thyroid carcinoma is less common than papillary thyroid carcinoma, comprising about 15% of thyroid cancer cases. FTC arises from the follicular cells of the thyroid gland and tends to spread to nearby tissues and organs. It may also metastasize to distant sites, such as the lungs and bones.

Suggested Read: Thyroid Nodule: One Of The Top Reasons You Need Thyroid Surgery

Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC)

Medullary thyroid carcinoma originates from the parafollicular cells, also known as C cells, which produce calcitonin—a hormone involved in calcium regulation. MTC accounts for approximately 4-5% of thyroid cancer cases and can be sporadic or hereditary. Hereditary MTC is often associated with multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2) syndromes.

Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma (ATC)

Anaplastic thyroid carcinoma is the most aggressive and least common type of thyroid cancer, representing less than 2% of cases. ATC typically grows rapidly and invades surrounding structures, making it challenging to treat. It is associated with a poor prognosis and high mortality rate.

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Related Read: Understanding Thyroid Nodules: When is a Biopsy Necessary?

Thyroid Lymphoma

Thyroid lymphoma is a rare type of thyroid cancer that originates from lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. It accounts for less than 5% of all thyroid malignancies. Thyroid lymphoma often presents as a rapidly enlarging mass in the neck and may be associated with symptoms such as hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and shortness of breath.

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