What are the types of thyroid tumors?Most growths on the thyroid gland are thyroid nodules and are noncancerous. They can be cysts full of fluid or overgrowths of thyroid tissue. Multinodular goiters are enlarged thyroid tumors with several nodules, and they can cause hyperthyroidism (elevated thyroid hormone).
There are four main types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary thyroid cancer. The most common thyroid cancer, papillary thyroid cancer grows slowly and affects the follicular cells. It can strike at any age and often spreads to the lymph nodes in the neck. It is highly treatable when diagnosed and treated promptly.
Follicular thyroid cancer. Follicular thyroid cancer grows slowly and affects the follicular cells, but it is more likely than papillary thyroid cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually the lungs and bones. Still, it is highly treatable when diagnosed promptly and accurately.
Medullary thyroid cancer. Medullary thyroid cancer is usually sporadic but can be inherited. It affects the C cells of the thyroid. It is usually a relatively slow-growing cancer but often spreads to lymph nodes and can spread to other organs. Still, it is usually treated successfully, especially when detected and diagnosed early.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is rare and aggressive. It accounts for less than 2 percent of thyroid cancers and is more common in older adults. It often spreads before it is diagnosed.