Thyroid Cancer Types

Overview  |  Types  |  Causes  |  Symptoms  |  Diagnosis  |  Treatment  |  Prognosis/Outcomes

What Are The Different Types Of Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer can be placed into two distinct categories, Differentiated Cancers and Non-Differentiated Cancers.

Differentiated cancers include:

  1. Papillary Thyroid Cancer
  2. Follicular Thyroid Cancer/ Hurthle Cell Carcinoma

Non-Differentiated cancers include:

  1. Medullary Thyroid Cancer
  2. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer
  3. Thyroid Lymphoma

What Is The Difference Between Differentiated and Non-Differentiated Thyroid Cancer?

These categories are based on the nature of the cancer cells themselves.

Differentiated cancers come from follicular cells—the cells that make the thyroid’s metabolism-controlling hormones. They look similar to normal thyroid cells when looked at under a microscope, and are typically more responsive to treatment than non-differentiated cancers.

Non-differentiated cancers can come from the thyroid’s calcium-controlling cells, from the immune cells that fight infections within the thyroid, or from follicular cells that are so mutated that they no longer look much like thyroid cells under a microscope.  

What is Papillary Thyroid Cancer?

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer, accounting for about 80% of all cases of thyroid cancer.

Papillary thyroid cancer tends to grow slowly. They sometimes spread to nearby lymph nodes.

What are Follicular Thyroid Cancer and Hurthle Cell Carcinoma?

Follicular thyroid cancer makes up about 10% of all cases of thyroid cancer.

Follicular thyroid cancer does not often spread to the lymph nodes, but it can spread to other organs, like the liver, lungs, bones, and brain.

Hurthle cell carcinoma is a form of follicular thyroid cancer, and accounts for 3% of all thyroid cancer cases. It is more likely to spread to lymph nodes than follicular thyroid cancer.

What is Medullary Thyroid Cancer?

Medullary thyroid cancer makes up about 4% of all cases of thyroid cancer. It develops from the thyroid cells that make Calcium-controlling hormones (called calcitonin).

Around 20% of cases of medullary thyroid cancer are related to genetic conditions that run in families. People with the inherited form of medullary thyroid cancer are also at risk for other tumors.

Medullary thyroid cancer is more likely to spread to nearby lymph nodes and other organs than the differentiated thyroid cancers.

What is Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer?

Anaplastic thyroid cancer, also called undifferentiated thyroid cancer, is very rare and makes up only 1 to 2% of all thyroid cancers.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer can spread quickly, and it can be more difficult to treat than other forms of thyroid cancer.

What is Thyroid Lymphoma?

Lymphoma is a disease in which lymphocytes (the blood cells that fight infection) turn into cancer cells. In thyroid lymphoma, the lymphocytes of the thyroid turn into cancer cells.

Thyroid lymphoma is rare, and accounts for 1-2% of all thyroid cancers.

Next Steps

If you are dealing with a thyroid issue, our team at the Columbia Thyroid Center is here to help. Call (212) 305-0444 or request an appointment online.

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