What are the types of thyroid cancer?

There are four main types of thyroid cancer:

Papillary thyroid cancer: The most common type of thyroid cancer. Follicular thyroid cancer. Follicular cell carcinoma is a form of follicular thyroid cancer and is treated the same way. Medullary thyroid cancer. Anaplastic thyroid cancer.

This answer is based on source information from National Cancer Institute.
There are four major types of thyroid cancer:
  1. Papillary
  2. Follicular and Hurthle Cell
  3. Medullary
  4. Anaplastic
The more "differentiated" the thyroid cancer is the closer to normal thyroid tissue it is. "Well-differentiated" thyroid cancers are more easily treated and have a better prognosis than poorly differentiated thyroid cancers. Papillary, follicular, and Hurthle cell cancers are considered "well differentiated" thyroid cancers. Fortunately, almost 90% of thyroid cancers are well-differentiated and are usually associated with the best prognosis mainly because they tend to grow very slowly, particularly in young patients. Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common thyroid cancer (80% of cases) and has the best prognosis. Medullary thyroid cancer is not classified according to its differentiation because it does not come from thyroid cells. Rather, it is a cancer of the "C" cells which are neuroendocrine cells within the thyroid.
Anaplastic cancer is often called "undifferentiated" because it least resembles the normal thyroid tissue. It is a rare type of thyroid cancer that is very aggressive and is associated with a poor prognosis.
Thyroid lymphoma is also very uncommon but can be confused with anaplastic cancer because it also usually grows quickly. Fortunately, thyroid lymphoma is very treatable.
Important factors in determining a patient's prognosis include the type of cancer, size of the tumor, spread of the tumor into nearby structures in the neck, spread of the tumor to other areas of the body (i.e. metastasis), and most importantly, the age of the patient.

Papillary thyroid cancer (PTC) is the most common type of thyroid cancer making up to 70-80% of all thyroid cancer cases, while Follicular and Hürthle cell cancers represent the second most common. PTC can sometimes spread to the lymph nodes of the neck and those can be surgically removed along with the thyroid.

Follicular or Hurthle cell cancers are more difficult to diagnose on fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy compared to PTC andare more likely to spread to the lungs or bones.

Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) accounts for 3 to 10% of all thyroid cancers and grows from specialized thyroid cells called parafollicular or C-cells that make a hormone called calcitonin. Those with MTC require a total thyroidectomy and central neck dissection, which involves removing the lymph nodes behind the thyroid gland.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare, but very aggressive cancer, representing only 1-2% of all thyroid cancers, which usually occurs in older patients.

For more information go the

Diseases of thyroid gland: Thyroid cancer

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.