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Types Of Thyroid Cancer

There are different types of thyroid cancer. Each type requires a different type of prognosis and treatment. The different types of thyroid cancer include:

  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Follicular thyroid cancer
  • Medullary thyroid cancer
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer
  • Thyroid lymphoma

Determining Thyroid Cancer Type
Papillary thyroid cancer - This is the most common type of thyroid cancer; it makes up about 80% of all thyroid cancer cases. Papillary cancer is not age-specific. It can happen at any age, but happens to be common in patients between ages 30 to 50 years of age.

Follicular thyroid cancer - Follicular thyroid cancer usually happens to individuals that are over 50 years of age. Follicular cancer also includes Hurthle cell cancer.

Medullary thyroid cancer - There may be a connection with this type of thyroid cancer and inherited genetic syndromes. These syndromes may, in fact, include tumors in other glands as well. Medullary thyroid cancer happens sporadically.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer - This type of thyroid cancer is even less common. It is also very, aggressive and difficult to treat. This particular type of thyroid cancer occurs in individuals over the age of 60.

Thyroid lymphoma - Thyroid lymphoma is even rarer. It starts in the immune system cells of the thyroid gland. This version of the cancer usually happens in persons over the age of 70.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase the risk of thyroid cancer include:

Radiation exposure - This includes instances of radiation treatment to the head and neck as well as from exposure to nuclear fallout or even nuclear weapons testing.

Personal/family history of goiter - Goiter is not a cancer. It is the non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid.

Family Risk Factors For Thyroid Cancer

Inherited genetic syndromes - If anyone in the family has a history of medullary thyroid cancer, this could increase the possibility of developing a form of thyroid cancer. If anyone in the family has suffered from multiple endocrine neoplasia and adenomatous polyposis, this too can be a risk factor.


Recurrences. It is possible for thyroid cancer to return even after a previous instance of the cancer has been removed. How does this happen? If any microscopic cancer cells spread beyond the thyroid gland before its removal, those remaining mutated cells can continue to infect the gland. Such recurrences can even happen many years after thyroid cancer treatment.

Where does thyroid cancer usually occur? It usually happens in the lymph nodes of the neck or in any infected thyroid tissue left behind during surgery. Thyroid cancer can also occur in the lungs or bones.

It is possible to treat recurrences and your doctor will most likely recommend scheduled blood tests or scans to check for signs of any recurrence of the cancer.

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