Doctors around the world now recognize that thyroid cancer is not one disease. It’s in fact several conditions, each with important differences when it comes to:
- how the cancer develops
- what the prognosis is
- which treatment will be most effective
MSK researchers and doctors helped make many of the important discoveries about the different types of thyroid cancer that exist.
There are several types of thyroid cancer.
Papillary Thyroid Cancer
Most people with thyroid cancer have papillary thyroid cancer. This type of tumor grows slowly. It usually starts in one lobe of the thyroid. Although it can spread to other parts of the body, it’s usually treatable.
Follicular Thyroid Cancer
Fewer people have follicular thyroid cancer than papillary thyroid cancer. This type of thyroid cancer tends to grow slowly. When it’s treated the right way, it can often be cured.
Hurthle Cell Carcinoma
This is a rare form of follicular thyroid cancer. Some people refer to is as oxyphil cell carcinoma. It can be a challenge to treat.
Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma (MTC)
MTC usually appears in older adults and affects one of the thyroid’s two lobes.
Familial Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma
Some people inherit this form of MTC. It develops during childhood or early adulthood and appears in several parts of the thyroid gland.
This type of thyroid cancer is sometimes called undifferentiated carcinoma. The disease usually develops from a papillary thyroid cancer or follicular thyroid cancer that’s in the body already. It spreads quickly throughout the neck and other parts of the body.