In English | En español
Questions About Cancer? 1-800-4-CANCER

Thyroid Cancer Treatment (PDQ®)

  • Last Modified: 02/28/2014

Page Options

  • Print This Page
  • Print This Document
  • View Entire Document
  • Email This Document

Cellular Classification of Thyroid Cancer

Cell type is an important determinant of prognosis in thyroid cancer. There are four main varieties of thyroid cancer (although, for clinical management of the patient, thyroid cancer is generally divided into two categories: well differentiated or poorly differentiated):[1]

  • Papillary carcinoma.
    • Papillary/follicular carcinoma.
  • Follicular carcinoma.
    • Hürthle cell carcinoma, a variant of follicular carcinoma with a poorer prognosis.[2,3]
  • Medullary carcinoma.
  • Anaplastic carcinoma.
    • Small cell carcinoma.
    • Giant cell carcinoma.
  • Others.
    • Lymphoma.
    • Sarcoma.
    • Carcinosarcoma.

A definition for each major type can be found under stage information.

References
  1. LiVolsi VA: Pathology of thyroid disease. In: Falk SA: Thyroid Disease: Endocrinology, Surgery, Nuclear Medicine, and Radiotherapy. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott-Raven, 1997, pp 127-175. 

  2. Kushchayeva Y, Duh QY, Kebebew E, et al.: Comparison of clinical characteristics at diagnosis and during follow-up in 118 patients with Hurthle cell or follicular thyroid cancer. Am J Surg 195 (4): 457-62, 2008.  [PUBMED Abstract]

  3. Mills SC, Haq M, Smellie WJ, et al.: Hürthle cell carcinoma of the thyroid: Retrospective review of 62 patients treated at the Royal Marsden Hospital between 1946 and 2003. Eur J Surg Oncol 35 (3): 230-4, 2009.  [PUBMED Abstract]