Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.

Types of Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer: Types list

The list of types of Thyroid cancer mentioned in various sources includes:

  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Follicular thyroid cancer
  • Medullary thyroid cancer - only about 5-10% of cases
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer - only about 1-2% of cases; usually patients over 65.

Types discussion:

Thyroid nodules can be benign or malignant :

  • Benign nodules are not cancer. Cells from benign nodules do not spread to other parts of the body. They are usually not a threat to life. Most thyroid nodules (more than 90 percent) are benign.

  • Malignant nodules are cancer. They are generally more serious and may sometimes be life threatening. Cancer cells can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Also, cancer cells can break away from a malignant nodule and enter the bloodstream or the lymphatic system . That is how cancer spreads from the original cancer (primary tumor ) to form new tumors in other organs. The spread of cancer is called metastasis .

The following are the major types of thyroid cancer:

  • Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers account for 80 to 90 percent of all thyroid cancers. Both types begin in the follicular cells of the thyroid. Most papillary and follicular thyroid cancers tend to grow slowly. If they are detected early, most can be treated successfully.

  • Medullary thyroid cancer accounts for 5 to 10 percent of thyroid cancer cases. It arises in C cells, not follicular cells. Medullary thyroid cancer is easier to control if it is found and treated before it spreads to other parts of the body.

  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the least common type of thyroid cancer (only 1 to 2 percent of cases). It arises in the follicular cells. The cancer cells are highly abnormal and difficult to recognize. This type of cancer is usually very hard to control because the cancer cells tend to grow and spread very quickly.

If thyroid cancer spreads (metastasizes ) outside the thyroid, cancer cells are often found in nearby lymph nodes , nerves, or blood vessels. If the cancer has reached these lymph nodes, cancer cells may have also spread to other lymph nodes or to other organs, such as the lungs or bones.

When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the primary tumor. For example, if thyroid cancer spreads to the lungs, the cancer cells in the lungs are thyroid cancer cells. The disease is metastatic thyroid cancer, not lung cancer. It is treated as thyroid cancer, not as lung cancer. Doctors sometimes call the new tumor "distant" or metastatic disease. (Source: excerpt from What You Need To Know About Thyroid Cancer: NCI)

Thyroid cancer: Rare Types

Rare types of medical conditions and diseases in related medical categories:

Thyroid cancer: Related Disease Topics

More general medical disease topics related to Thyroid cancer include:

Research More About Thyroid cancer


By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise