- News Releases
September is Thyroid Cancer Awareness Month, which makes this a good time to learn about the different types of thyroid cancer.
Nearly 44,000 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. this year, and more than 2,000 people will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
Thyroid cancer occurs in the cells of the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight.
There may be no signs or symptoms early in the disease. As thyroid cancer grows, it may cause pain and swollen lymph nodes; difficulty swallowing; and changes to your voice, including increasing hoarseness.
Treatment can cure most thyroid cancers. Your treatment options will depend on the type and stage of your thyroid cancer, your overall health, and your preferences.
Thyroid cancer is classified into types based on the kinds of cells found in the tumor. Your type is determined when a sample of tissue from your cancer is examined under a microscope. The type of thyroid cancer is considered when determining your treatment and prognosis.
Differentiated thyroid cancers
This broad category includes types of thyroid cancer that start in the cells that produce and store thyroid hormones. These cells are called follicular cells. Differentiated thyroid cancer cells appear similar to healthy cells when viewed under a microscope.
The four types of differentiated thyroid cancer are:
Anaplastic thyroid cancer
Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer that typically occurs in adults 60 and older. It grows quickly and is difficult to treat. It can cause severe signs and symptoms, such as neck swelling that worsens quickly and may lead to difficulty breathing and swallowing.
Medullary thyroid cancer
Medullary thyroid cancer is rare and begins in thyroid cells called C cells, which produce the hormone calcitonin. Elevated levels of calcitonin in the blood can indicate medullary thyroid cancer at an early stage.
Other rare types
Other rare types of cancer that start in the thyroid include thyroid lymphoma, which begins in the immune system cells of the thyroid, and thyroid sarcoma, which begins in the connective tissue cells of the thyroid.