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Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the thyroid gland.


This page will go through the types of thyroid cancer to help you learn the difference.

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Main Thyroid Gland Cell Types


These types of cells make thyroid hormone from the iodine in blood to help regulate metabolism. If you have too little or too much thyroid hormone, you develop hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. The pituitary gland tells your body how much to release. 

C Cells

C cells makes calcitonin which is a hormone that helps control how your body uses calcium. These cells are also called parafollicular cells.

Types of Thyroid Cancer


includes papillary, follicular and Hürthle cell


(MTC) develops from the C cells from your thyroid gland. There are 2 types of MTC:


also called undifferentiated


  • Is the most common type of thyroid cancer

  • Usually grows very slowly

  • Can often spread to the lymph nodes in the neck

  • Treatments are often successfully and rarely result in fatality

Papillary subtypes

  • There are several subtypes of papillary thyroid cancer

  • Follicular subtype usually has the same positive prognosis as papillary

  • Other subtypes include columnar, tall cell, insular, and diffuse sclerosing) are not as common but can grow more quickly


  • Is the next most common type of thyroid cancer

  • More common in areas where not enough iodine is consumed in your diet

  • Usually doesn't spread to the lymph nodes, but can spread to other parts of your body. 

Hürthle cell

  • Harder to find and treat than the above thyroid cancers

Sporadic MTC

  • Not inherited from family members

  • Occurs mostly in older adults

  • Often affects only one thyroid lobe

Familial MTC

  • Is inherited from family

  • Often develops during childhood or early adulthood 

  • Can spread early on

Anaplastic is a rare thyroid cancer and often spreads very quickly to the neck and other parts of the body, making it quite aggressive.

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