What Is Thyroid Cancer?


Quick Answer

Thyroid cancer is cancer that occurs in the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland located just below the Adam's apple at the base of the neck, according to Mayo Clinic. The most common types of thyroid cancer, according to the American Cancer Society, include papillary carcinoma, follicular carcinoma and Hurthle cell carcinoma. Medullary thyroid carcinoma, anaplastic carcinoma, thyroid lymphoma and thyroid sarcoma are rare forms of the disease.

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What Is Thyroid Cancer?
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Full Answer

Around eight out of 10 instances of thyroid cancer are papillary carcinoma. This form of thyroid cancer grows slowly and typically only develops in one of the thyroid gland's lobes. Rarely fatal, papillary carcinoma is generally treated successfully. Cancer.org notes that one of every 10 cases of thyroid cancer is classified as follicular carcinoma, which is a type of thyroid cancer that is more prevalent in areas of the world where iodine in the diet is insufficient. The outlook for follicular thyroid cancer, while not as good for those with papillary thyroid cancer, is still quite good.

Mayo Clinic states that most thyroid cancer can be cured with treatment. Surgical treatment to remove most or even all of the thyroid gland is common. Following surgical removal, patients are prescribed lifetime thyroid hormone replacement therapy to make up for the lack of thyroid hormone produced naturally by the body. After surgery, any remaining thyroid tissue is generally destroyed via radioactive iodine treatments administered orally.

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