Thyroid Cancers are the 5th most
common form of cancer on the planet


What are Thyroid Cancers?

In its most basic form, Thyroid Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of cells in the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located just below the center of the neck. There are 3 different types of Thyroid Cancers: Papillary Carcinomas, Follicular Carcinomas, and Hurthle Cell Carcinomas. All of these will be discussed in great detail below.

The thyroid is essentially a large ductless gland in the neck that secretes special hormones that control certain aspects of growth through manipulating the rate of metabolism. Cancer of the thyroid is fairly common relative to other cancers, and scientists are still trying to unravel the mystery of what causes it. Fortunately, the largely visible symptoms of Thyroid Cancer make eary detection fairly easy, something which means that the vast majority of people who contract the disease eventually make a significant recovery.

Let's start off by discussing each individual type of Thyroid Cancer. As can be seen in the graph below, Papillary Carcinomas are easily the most common type of Thyroid Cancer, account for 80% of total cases. It is closely followed by Follicular Carcinomas, and finally, the Hurthle Cell Carcinomas.

Papillary Carcinomas Follicular Carcinomas Hurthle Cell Carcinomas

Papillary Carcinomas

As illustrated by the chart above, Papillary Carcinomas are the most frequent form of Thyroid Cancer. Before discussing this disease in detail, it is essential to first understand the implications of the cancer in regards to its location in the thyroid. The main purpose of the thyroid to regulate the prominence of certain hormones by sending them to key points in the body. This means that the thyroid has access to nearly every major organ in the body, something that enables cancerous cells to spread quickly and broadly. This fact makes the early discovery of Thyroid Cancer especially important.

Papillary Carcinomas, intuitively enough, first develop in the thyroid area. The most common physical indication of this form of cancer comes in the form of a large lump on the throat, usually larger than what the adams apple would be for a male. There do exist other means of discovering this disease, such as blood tests and biopsies, but the largely visible nature of the illness makes early visual identification a distinct possibility.

This subset of Thyroid Cancer has the best prognosis for all forms of the disease, with 90 percent of all victims surviving 10 years or more past the initial time of diagnosis. This has largely been attributed to the symptoms of the disease, which include: intense and sharp pain in the neck and swelling in the thyroid. While these symptoms may sound unpleasant, their easily noticeable nature actually saves lives by making it easier for the disease to be discovered in its earlier stages.

Follicular Carcinomas

Follicular Carcinomas are a relatively rare subset of Thyroid Cancer, accounting for just 17% of total cases. They share many similarities with Papillary Carcinomas, and as such are often described as being a specific varient of that form of Thyroid Cancer. Both spread relatively easily, and both oiginate within the thyroid. However, there are a few differences that set it apart from other varients of Thyroid Cancer.

The prognosis for victims of this disease, while a little more severe than similar cases of Papillary Carcinomas, is still good when considered on balance. In fact, 8 out of 10 people diagnosed with a Follicular Carcinoma survive at least 10 years after their cancer is first identified. Even in extreme cases, when the cancer is discovered in its fourth stage, about half of patients survive 5 years or more.

Another key difference between the two is that Follicular Carcinomas rarely spread to the lymph nodes. While treatment is still a long way from being comfortable, this allows doctors to pursue less invasive surgical procedures.

Hurthle Cell Carcinomas

Hurthle Cell Carcinomas (sometimes referred to as HCCs) are the rarest form of Thyroid Cancer. Just as Follicular Carcinomas are varients of Papillary Carcinomas, HCCs are varients of Follicular Carcinomas. This form of cancer attacks the Hurthle Cells. These cells are ripe with cytoplasm, and when infected can disable the mitochondria. This in turn reduces the amount of energy being produced for the body, thus debilitating the health of the patient.

While many of the symptoms do not differ from the other two forms of cancer discussed above, the most important thing to take into consideration is how easily it can spread. The true danger of this disease lies in how easily it can metastasize around the body, affecting other organs necessary for survival.

Advancements in Treatment

The incidence rate of Thyroid Cancer has skyrocketed since 1973. While on the surface the situation may appear to be very bad, recent innovations in medicine and technology have kept the mortality rates of the disease extremely steady, even as the incidence rate has continued to rise. All of the innovations highlighted below have served as powerful tools that have enabled the world to curb the violent effects of Thyroid Cancer.

Thyroid Cancer Incidence Rates VS. Mortality Rates (rate per 100,000)

Why are survival rates so steady?

The stable nature of survival rates can be attributed to new technologies that have provided patients and doctors alike with more weapons with which to employ against Thyroid Cancers. Below are some explanations of these technologies along with descriptions of the medical staff that ensure that their application is both practical and safe for the patient in question.

Medical Staff

The first thing that is done when a patient is diagnosed with any form of Thyroid Cancer is the establishment of a medical team that is suited to meet the needs of that specific patient. There are a total of 3 specialized doctors that typically work with Thyroid Cancers.

The first is the oncologist, who establishes the optimal treatment roadmap for the patient. The next professional is the nuclear medicine doctor, who specializes in applying radioactive substances to diagnose and treat the various forms of Thyroid Cancer. Lastly, the Otolaryngologist is a doctor who specializes in treatment of the ear, nose, and throat area. This specialist is usually only brought in for diagnosal and treatment recommendation purposes.

Depending on the type and stage of the cancer and other factors, treatment options for Thyroid Cancer can include: Surgery, radiation therapy, laser therapy, chemotherapy, and certain types of targeted therapy. Sometimes, more than one of type of treatment might be used. In choosing which treatment plan is best for the patient, some important factors to consider include: the location and stage of the cancer, the patient's overall health, the chances of curing the disease, and the possible impact of the treatment on the thyroid.

Radioactive Iodine

Radioactive Iodine is one of the most exciting new developments in the field of Thyroid Cancer research. They exist as a relative noninvasive means to treat particularly advanced cases of Thyroid Cancer, and can even be used in situations in which the cancer has spread beyond its point of origin.

Thyroid cells are one of the few cells in the body that possess the mechanisms to properly absorb and concentrate Iodine. Medical professionals take advantage of this fact by inserting radioactive iodine into the bloodstream of the patient. After the Iodine is absorbed by the cancerous thyroid cells, the radiation that was implanted into the Iodine essentially destroys the cancerous cells from the inside.

Because Thyroid cells are the only kind that latch onto the Iodine, the rest of the body remains relatively safe from the radiation. Treatments of this nature mark a stark break from the ways of the past, as doctors and patients alike are able to achieve effective treatment without many of the negative side effects that are typically associated with cancer treatment.


A Thyroidectomy involves the removal of all of most of the thyroid in an attempt to halt the advancement of cancerous cells. This is an especially new form of treatment, as scientists and doctors were previously not able to emulate the functioning of the thyroid. Recent advancements have made treatments such as this increasingly practical and effective.

The aftercare of this treatment, while disruptive and long lasting in its effect, is generally considered by most medical professionals to be an important part in ensuring a safe recovery. Patients who undergo this procedure are usually placed on some form of thyroid hormone replacement for the remainder of their lives. This hormone replacement mimics the natural functioning of the thyroid and ensures that the patient is able to lead a normal life after receiving treatment.

How to Help

Even though the mortality rate of Thyroid Cancers is decreasing, the incidence rate has shown no sign of letting up, causing pain for tens of thousands of people worldwide every year. Through some of the organizations below, you can help the world get one step closer to relieving not only current patients of their pain, but also preventing this problem from reoccuring in the future. All of the options below stand as fantastic ways to take an active stand against Thyroid Cancers.

Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association

The Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association is an expansive organization that is an expansive organization that has selflessly dedicated itself to the eradication of Thyroid Cancers. They pursue this ambitious goal on four equally important fronts:

1) To educate, so that families can beter understand the disease.
2) To participate, so people can learn from the experiences of others.
3) To communicate, so everyone can better understand the needs of others.
4) To support research, for a future free of thyroid cancer.

The organization has made a targeted effort to act on levels both local and global in order to accomplish these goals. In accordance with this fact, they sponsor support groups that are active on the internet and in individualized communities as well as provide resources to better help physicians and patients alike come to terms with the many complexities of Thyroid Cancer.

All of these outreach efforts would be impossible without the continued support of the public. Thyroid Cancer kills through a failure to discover the disease early, so such efforts are instrumental in saving lives through the promotion of scientific knowledge and innovation. You can join them in their fight by clicking on the button below to donate.


Light of Life Foundation

The Light of Life Foundation is an organization that works tirelessly to improve the quality of life for Thyroid Cancer patients through the promotion of education of the general public as well as the establishment of improved research efforts within the medical community. Their mission is one of charity, and as such largely relies on the continued support of the public to achieve their selfless goals.

The foundation was founded by Joan Shey, a former Thyroid Cancer patient who hopes to provide support for patients around the world through a system that is adaptive to their specific needs. This is something that she didn't have when she was first diagnosed with cancer in 1995. Through her leadership, the Light of Life Foundation hopes to raise money for research to support the development of new diagnostic and treatment initiatives for Thyroid Cancer.

The prosperity and success that this foundation has enjoyed would be impossible without the support of the public. It is only the common person who is able to help fund research through this foundation, and help take a step in the right direction for subduing the threat of Thyroid Cancer once and for all. You can fulfill this honorable role by clicking the button below to donate.


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In order to succeed in the fight for life we must join together and connect. Through social media, the sharing of stories, and advancement in research we, together, have the opportunity to beat Thyroid Cancer.

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