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- Papillary carcinoma (most common type)—It usually grows very slowly and often spreads to lymph nodes in the neck. If caught early, this type of thyroid cancer is often curable.
- Follicular carcinoma (second most common type)—It usually stays in the thyroid gland, but can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and bones. It does not usually spread to the lymph nodes. If caught early, this type of thyroid cancer is often curable.
- Anaplastic carcinoma (rare form of thyroid cancer)—It quickly invades the neck and other parts of the body and is often fatal.
- Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)—This cancer develops from cells in the thyroid gland called C-cells. MTC often spreads to the lymph nodes, lungs, or liver before a thyroid nodule has been discovered. There are two types of MTC:
- Sporadic MTC
- Familial medullary thyroid carcinoma (FMTC)
- Thyroid lymphoma (rare type of thyroid cancer)—Many cases occur in people who have a disease called Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
CausesCancer occurs when cells in the body divide without control or order. Eventually these uncontrolled cells form a growth or tumor. The term cancer refers to malignant growths. These growths can invade nearby tissues including the lymph nodes. Cancer that has invaded the lymph nodes can then spread to other parts of the body.It is not clear exactly what causes these problems in the cells, but is probably a combination of genetics and environment.
Risk FactorsThyroid cancer is more common in women, and in people aged 30 years and older. Other factors that may increase your chance of thyroid cancer include:
- Diet low in iodine
- History of radiation to the head, neck, or chest, especially in infancy or childhood
- Family history of thyroid cancer
- Enlargement of the hands, feet, and facial features—acromegaly
- Sjogren's syndrome
- Exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear accidents or exposed to nuclear testing area during childhood
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