Thyroid cancer is cancer affecting the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones that regulate your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature and weight. It is the 8th most common cancer affecting women in Singapore.
Types of thyroid cancers
Thyroid cancers are classified according to their cell types
- Papillary thyroid cancer – This is the most common form arising from thyroid follicles.
- Follicular thyroid cancer – Also rises from thyroid follicles. May be difficult to differentiate from non-cancerous thyroid nodules.
- Medullary thyroid cancer – This is an uncommon form of cancer that arises from cells located between thyroid follicles.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer – While uncommon, this form is aggressive and carries a poorer prognosis.
- Thyroid lymphoma – A rare form of cancer.
Thyroid cancer may affect both the young and old. While everyone dreads being diagnosed with any form of cancer, thyroid cancers in general are readily treatable and carry very good prognoses, particularly in younger persons.
Mutations of certain genes have been identified to cause papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. Unfortunately, the causative reasons for these gene mutations are not entirely clear. Excessive exposure to radiation is a well-established cause. Certain inherited medical conditions such as familial polyposis and Type 2 Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia (rare) are associated with thyroid cancers as well.