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Thyroid Cancer

Introduction

Thyroid cancer is the most common among the cancers of the endocrine glands. It is more common among women than men. The incidence of thyroid cancer among women is about 6 per 100,000 whereas men have an incidence of about 2.5 per 100,000. In 1995 in the US there were 13,900 new cases of thyroid cancer and 1,120 died from it (Ref.1, p.1629).

Although we speak of thyroid cancer as if it were one type of cancer, it is in reality a collection of very diverse cancers that are classified by their histology, the appearance under the microscope. The reason this is important to know is that the rate, at which the various types of thyroid cancer grow, is vastly different. The faster the cancer grows, the more difficult to control and the deadlier it is. I will explain this in more detail below. There seems to also be a difference whether or not the thyroid cancer is found in a younger or older person. The older the person, the more malignant the growth behavior and the worse the prognosis.

Thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer

Anatomy

The thyroid gland is situated just below the larynx (voice box) and embraces the trachea (windpipe). The two lobes on each side are connected via the slimmer isthmus, which is the middle part in the front. Many thyroid cancers often start in one of the lobes, but there is a higher risk to develop an identical cancer in the other lobe later in life and this has become important for diagnosis and treatment.

 

References:

1. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Thyroid tumors.

2. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology, 4th edition, by V.T. De Vita,Jr.,et. al J.B.  LippincottCo.,Philadelphia, 1993.Thyroid tumors.

3. CC Cheung et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001 May;86(5):2187-2190.

4. F Dede et al. Clin Nucl Med 2001 May;26(5):396-399.

5. S Hermann et al. Int J Cancer 2001 Jun 15;92(6):805-811.

6. I Sturm et al. J Clin Oncol 1999 May;17(5):1364-1374.

7. VL Greenberg et al. Thyroid 2001 Apr;11(4):315-325.

8. K Ohta et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001May;86(5):2170-2177.

9. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

10. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: October 21, 2014

Disclaimer
This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.