Thyroid Cancer



Thyroid cancer affects the thyroid glands, a gland present below the neck responsible for producing thyroid hormones. Thyroid cancer begins when healthy thyroid cells get out of control and transform into a tumour. According to the Globocan 2018 report, the incidence rate and mortality rate for thyroid cancer was found to be 1.6% and 0.65% respectively.

Types of Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer develops from follicular cells and usually grows slowly. It is the most common type of thyroid cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer can often spread to lymph nodes.

Follicular thyroid cancer

Follicular thyroid cancer also develops from follicular cells and usually grows slowly. Follicular thyroid cancer is also a differentiated thyroid cancer, but it is far less common than papillary thyroid cancer.

Hurthle cell cancer

Hurthle cell carcinoma arises from a type of follicular cell. Hurthle cell cancers are much more likely to spread to lymph nodes than other follicular thyroid cancers.

Medullary thyroid cancer

It develops in the C cells and is sometimes the result of a genetic syndrome called multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2).

Anaplastic thyroid cancer

This type is rare, accounting for about 2% of thyroid cancer. It is a fast-growing, poorly differentiated thyroid cancer that may start from differentiated thyroid cancer or a benign thyroid tumor.


In case of papillary thyroid cancer, mutation in the RET gene causes this type of cancer. The mutation in the RAS genes and PAX8-PPAR –γ rearrangement is responsible for follicular thyroid cancer. Anaplastic thyroid cancer develops due to changes in TP53 tumor suppressor gene.

Risk Factors

A family history of thyroid cancer increases the risk.

Exposure to radiation- such as radiotherapy.


Acromegaly, production of excess growth hormones.

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)- a bowel condition.

Presence of iodine content in the diet

Signs & symptoms

Inflammation of the glands in the neck

A lump in front of the neck


Sore throat

Difficulty in swallowing


Blood Test

A thyroid function test is performed to check the levels of thyroid hormones in the blood.

Imaging tests

Several scans are conducted to diagnose thyroid cancer including ultrasound, radioiodine scan, chest X-Ray, CT scan, and MRI scans.


A biopsy of the thyroid is done by inserting a thin needle into the lump. Several tests are conducted on biopsy sample such as molecular tests to identify changes in specific genes.