Thyroid cancer, or thyroid carcinoma, is a type of cancer that starts in the thyroid gland, a small butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck. When the normally functioning thyroid cells undergo genetic mutations and start dividing uncontrollably to form a mass, it is referred to as thyroid carcinoma. The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in regulating the body's metabolism by producing hormones.
Thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon compared to other forms of cancer. However, its incidence has been on the rise in recent years. It is important to note that while thyroid carcinoma is not as common as some other cancers, it is often treatable, especially when detected early.
Thyroid cancer classification is made based on the type of cell from which it arises. The following are the different types of thyroid cancer:
Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer, accounting for about 80% of thyroid cancer cases. It usually grows slowly and tends to affect younger individuals.
Hürthle cell carcinoma is a subtype of follicular thyroid cancer. Both hürthle cell neoplasm and hürthle cell thyroid cancer arise from a specific type of cell in the thyroid. It is less common than papillary thyroid cancer.
This type of thyroid cancer originates in the C cells of the thyroid, which produce calcitonin. It accounts for about 4% of thyroid carcinomas.
Follicular thyroid carcinoma is less common than papillary thyroid cancer but more common than medullary thyroid cancer. It occurs when the follicular thyroid cells divide abnormally and form a mass. Follicular thyroid carcinoma tends to affect older individuals.
Follicular neoplasm is a type of thyroid tumor that may be benign or malignant. These are usually slow-growing and have a better prognosis.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the most aggressive and one of the less common thyroid carcinoma types. It can spread rapidly and is often difficult to treat.
Staging is crucial in determining the extent of thyroid carcinoma and planning appropriate treatment. The different stages of thyroid carcinoma include:
Stage 0 is known as papillary thyroid carcinoma in situ. It means that abnormal cells are found in the innermost layer of cells lining the thyroid follicles but have not invaded nearby tissues.
Stage I thyroid cancer is characterized by a smaller tumor that is smaller in size and is confined to the thyroid gland. Stage 1 thyroid cancer can be treated successfully and has the best prognosis.
Stage II is characterized by a larger tumor confined to the thyroid gland. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or distant sites.
In Stage III, the cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes or other structures in the neck but has not reached distant organs.
Stage IVA indicates that the cancer has spread beyond the thyroid gland to nearby structures, such as the trachea, esophagus, or larynx.
In Stage IVB, the cancer has spread to distant organs or lymph nodes outside the neck.
Stage IVC is the most advanced stage, indicating that the cancer has spread extensively to distant organs, such as the lungs or bones.
Thyroid cancer is a diverse disease with various types and stages. Early detection and appropriate treatment are key to managing thyroid carcinoma effectively.