About Thyroid Cancer

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland wrapped around the windpipe near the base of the neck. It contains two main types of cells: follicular cells and C-cells. Thyroid problems can range from non-cancerous to cancerous. 

Many kinds of lumps or changes can develop in the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are common and usually painless. The vast majority of them are benign (not cancerous) and include:

  • Goiter
  • Hashimotos
  • Thyroid nodules

Thyroid Nodules

Finding a lump or something unusual on your body can be scary. But discovering a lump, or nodule, on the thyroid is a common occurance. In fact, almost half of women over the age of 50 have a thyroid nodule and the likelihood of developing one increases with age. The majority of thyroid nodules are not cancerous and in many cases, an endocrinologist like the ones at Fox Chase can look at images from an ultrasound of the thyroid and determine if a biopsy should be done, or if the nodule just needs to be monitored.

In many cases, thyroid nodules can be monitored with ultrasounds. And since nodules are often slow growing, if there is little change shown on ultrasounds, patients may only need to be monitored for a few years.

Thyroid Cancer

Different forms of thyroid cancer develop from each kind of cell in the thyroid. These differences are important because they influence the types of treatment that your doctors will recommend. Types of thyroid cancer include:

  • Papillary thyroid cancer
  • Follicular thyroid cancer
  • Hürthle cell carcinoma
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer