Thyroid Cancer

Your thyroid is shaped like a small butterfly, and is usually found inside the lower front of your neck. It’s a gland that controls your metabolism. It also releases hormones that direct many functions in your body, including how you use energy, how you produce heat, and how you consume oxygen.

Thyroid cancer develops when cells change or mutate. The abnormal cells begin multiplying in your thyroid and, once there are enough of them, they form a tumor.

If it’s caught early, thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer.

Types of Thyroid Cancer

Researchers have identified four main types:

Papillary thyroid cancer. If you have thyroid cancer, you probably have this type. It’s found in up to 80% of all thyroid cancer cases. It tends to grow slowly, but often spreads to the nymph nodes in your neck. Even so, you have a good chance for a full recovery.

Follicular thyroid cancer makes up between 10% and 15% of all thyroid cancers in the United States. It can spread into your lymph nodes and is also more likely to spread into your blood vessels.

Medullary cancer is found in about 4% of all thyroid cancer cases. It’s more likely to be found at an early stage because it produces a hormone called calcitonin, which doctors keep an eye out for in blood test results.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer can be the most severe type, because it’s aggressive in spreading to other parts of the body. It’s rare, and it is the hardest to treat.

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