Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer occurs in all age groups, especially in persons who have had radiation treatment to the neck area. Papillary and follicular carcinomas are most common and are usually associated with prolonged survival.

Papillary carcinoma accounts for half of all thyroid cancers in adults; it’s most common in young adult females and metastasizes slowly. It’s the least virulent form of thyroid cancer. Follicular carcinoma is less common but more likely to recur and metastasize to the regional nodes and through blood vessels into the bones, liver, and lungs.

Medullary carcinoma originates in the parafollicular cells derived from the last branchial pouch and contains amyloid and calcium deposits. It can produce calcitonin, histaminase, corticotropin (producing Cushing’s syndrome), and prostaglandin E2 and F3 (producing diarrhea).

This rare form of thyroid cancer is familial, associated with pheochromocytoma, and completely curable when detected before it causes symptoms. Untreated, it progresses rapidly.

Seldom curable by resection, giant and spindle cell cancer (anaplastic tumor) resists radiation and metastasizes rapidly.


Predisposing factors include radiation exposure, prolonged thyrotropin stimulation (through radiation or heredity), familial predisposition, or chronic goiter.

Signs and symptoms

The primary signs of thyroid cancer are a painless nodule, a hard nodule in an enlarged thyroid gland, or palpable lymph nodes with thyroid enlargement. Eventually, the pressure of such a nodule or enlargement causes hoarseness, dysphagia, dyspnea, and pain on palpation.

If the tumor is large enough to destroy the gland, hypothyroidism follows, with its typical symptoms of low metabolism (mental apathy and sensitivity to cold). However, if the tumor stimulates excess thyroid hormone production, it induces symptoms of thyrotoxicosis (sensitivity to heat, restlessness, and hyperactivity).

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Jun 16, 2016 | Posted by in GENERAL & FAMILY MEDICINE | Comments Off on Thyroid cancer

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