Thyroid Cancer—Patient Version

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The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the windpipe. It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. A thin piece of tissue connects the two lobes. The thyroid makes hormones that help control heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and weight.

There are four types of thyroid cancer. These are papillary, follicular, medullary, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Papillary is the most common type of thyroid cancer.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is hard to cure with current treatment. Other types of thyroid cancer can usually be cured.

Being exposed to radiation to the head and neck as a child increases the risk of thyroid cancer. Having certain genetic conditions such as familial medullary thyroid cancer, multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2A syndrome, and multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B syndrome can also increase the risk of thyroid cancer.

Thyroid cancer represents the 8th most common cancer in the United States, but is highly treatable and usually curable. This video provides key facts, including statistics.