by Mary J. Shomon
Thyroid cancer is fairly uncommon, accounting for only 1.2% of all new
cancers in the United States annually. Although thyroid cancer is still
cancer that requires treatment and lifelong monitoring, and can have
debilitating effects on patients, survival rates are, high, with 95% of
thyroid cancer patients achieving what would be considered a cure, or
long-term survival without reoccurrence.
Thyroid cancer affects women two to three times more than men. Besides
appears to be a hormonal or gender connection, the causes of thyroid
are, for the most part, not known.
There are four types of thyroid cancer: Papillary, Follicular,
Medullary, and Anaplastic.
Papillary cancer is the most common type of cancer, perhaps because
papillaries are quite common in the thyroid gland. Papillary cancer
involves one side of the thyroid and sometimes
spreads into the lymph nodes. The cure rate is very high.
Follicular cancer, the second most common type of thyroid cancer, is
somewhat more malignant than papillary. The thyroid gland is comprised
follicles which produce thyroid hormones that are essential for growth
development of all body tissues. This cancer doesn't usually spread to
lymph nodes, but it may spread to arteries and veins of thyroid gland
more distantly (lung, bone, skin, etc), though that is uncommon.
cancer is more common in older people. Again, the long -term survival
Medullary thyroid cancer is the third most common type of thyroid
and usually originates in the upper central lobe of the thyroid. It
to the lymph nodes earlier than papillary or follicular cancers. It
from papillary and follicular cancer, however, in that it does not arise
from cells that produce thyroid hormone, but instead from C cells. These
cells make the hormone calcitonin. This type of cancer can run in
and also has a good cure rate.
Anaplastic is the rarest and most serious thyroid cancer. It can spread
early to lymph nodes, thus usually the cause for a visit to the doctor is
mass in the neck. It also is the form of thyroid cancer most likely to
spread to other organs beyond the thyroid or lymph nodes. This type of
thyroid cancer is more common in those over 65 and in men. Long-term
survival rates are far less than for the other three types of cancer.
See an in-depth review of thyroid cancer,
available treatments, follow-up care, and links to support groups and other resources now.