What are the types of thyroid cancer?

Woman having her throat examined by a doctor

There are four main types of thyroid cancer:

  1. Papillary thyroid cancer is a very slow-growing cancer. About 4 out of 5 thyroid cancers are papillary so it is the most common type, particularly in women aged 35 to 45. It has a high cure rate.
  2. Follicular thyroid cancer is less common and usually found in older people.
  3. Medullary thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer. There are two categories of medullary thyroid cancer: sporadic and hereditary. Sporadic accounts for the majority of medullary thyroid cancers. The inherited form has a genetic mutation that is carried in families.

    If you have this type of cancer your family members are more at risk of getting it too, so talk to your GP about genetic testing and ways to spot cancer early. Read more about cancer and genetics.

  4. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is also a rare cancer. Most people who get this cancer are older. It grows quickly and can be difficult to treat.

Papillary and follicular cancers have a lot of features in common so they are collectively known as differentiated thyroid cancers (DTCs).

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