Papillary thyroid cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type, making up about 70% to 80% of all thyroid cancers. Papillary thyroid cancer can occur at any age. It tends to grow slowly and often spreads to lymph nodes in the neck. However, unlike many other cancers, papillary cancer has a generally excellent outlook, even if there is spread to the lymph nodes.
Follicular thyroid cancer. Follicular thyroid cancer makes up about 10% to 15% of all thyroid cancers in the United States. Follicular cancer can spread to lymph nodes in the neck, but this is much less common than with papillary cancer. Follicular cancer is also more likely than papillary cancer to spread to distant organs, particularly the lungs and bones.
Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers are also known as Well-Differentiated Thyroid Cancers (DTC). The information in this brochure refers to the differentiated thyroid cancers. The other types of thyroid cancer listed below will be covered in other brochures.
Go to the Thyroid Cancer (Papillary and Follicular) Brochure >>
Anaplastic thyroid cancer is one of the fastest growing and most aggressive of all cancers. It is also known as undifferentiated thyroid cancer because the cells do not look or behave like typical thyroid cells. The cause of anaplastic thyroid cancer is unknown, however, in some cases it arises in the setting of differentiated thyroid cancers such as papillary or follicular thyroid cancers. While overall survival statistics are discouraging – with an average survival rate of 6 months and approximately 1 in 5 alive after 12 months – it is important to note that there are long-term survivors.
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Medullary Thyroid Cancer (MTC) accounts for 1%– 2% of thyroid cancers in the United States. MTC is different from other types of thyroid cancers (which are derived from thyroid follicular cells – the cells that make thyroid hormone), because it originates from the parafollicular C cells (also called “C cells”) of the thyroid gland. These cells do not make thyroid hormone and instead make a different hormone called calcitonin.
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Pediatric Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Thyroid cancer is less common in children and adolescents when compared to adults, with an annual incidence of approximately 4-5 in 100,000 cases. Within pediatrics, thyroid cancer is most commonly diagnosed in teenage girls, for whom it is estimated to be the 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer.
Compared to adults, childhood thyroid cancers have higher rates of metastases and recurrence. However, for the majority of children and adolescents, thyroid cancer is very treatable and the prognosis for children with thyroid cancers is usually excellent. Thus, the goal of treatment is to get rid of the cancer with the fewest complications from treatment.
Go to the Pediatric Differentiated Thyroid Cancer Brochure >>