What is thyroid cancer?
DNA mutations that occur in response to an environmental exposure or exposure toxic substances or spontaneously can alter normal thyroid cells. The genetic changes cause the cells to multiply very rapidly without the normal controls found in the rest of the gland. Therefore. any of these cell types found in the thyroid gland can mutate into a specific type of cancer.
What are the different types of thyroid cancer?
Thyroid cancers are classified based upon which cell type is involved.
Well differentiated cancers include:
Papillary thyroid cancer: This is the most common type of thyroid cancer.
Hürthle cell carcinoma: This is a rare variant of papillary cancer also known as oncocytic carcinoma.
Follicular thyroid cancer: Follicular carcinoma is the second most common type of thyroid cancer.
Medullary thyroid cancer: This thyroid cancer type arises from the C cells in the thyroid.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer: This rare cancer involves thyroid cells which are very abnormal looking.
Lymphoma: This rare cancer is most often non-Hodkin’s B cell type.
Sarcoma: This type of thyroid cancer is very rare.
Surgery for Thyroid Cancer
Most thyroid cancers require surgery to remove the tumor.
Lobectomy: The thyroid has two lobes joined in the middle with a fibrous tissue bridge called the isthmus. If the tumor is confined to only a small area, the surgeon may just remove the affected lobe.
Total Thyroidectomy: This is the most common surgery for thyroid cancer and the goal is to completely remove the thyroid gland and hopefully ensure that the cancer will not recur.
Lymph node resection: Thyroid cancer can spread to local lymph nodes, and these nodes often are removed.
Open biopsy: A surgeon may operate to remove the nodule and send all the tissue for evaluation by a pathologist to make the diagnosis of cancer.