What is Thyroid Cancer?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones that regulate important body functions, including your heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and metabolism.
Cancer is the result of a mutation that causes cells in the body to grow out of control. A buildup of cells in the thyroid can result in the formation of tumors, also called nodules, which may be either malignant (cancerous) or benign (noncancerous). The majority of thyroid tumors are benign, but some are malignant. If the tumor is malignant, cancerous cells can break away and spread to other parts of the body, either through blood vessels or the lymph node system.
Malignant thyroid cancer presents in four ways.
- Papillary is the most common form of thyroid cancer; it affects more women than men and is known to have a high cure rate.
- Follicular thyroid cancer occurs more often among elderly patients; it spreads through the bloodstream to other areas of the body.
- Medullary thyroid cancer tends to run in families and may spread through the lymphatic system and bloodstream to other parts of the body. In some cases, individuals with strong family histories may have their thyroid gland removed for preventive purposes.
- Anaplastic is a rare, fast-growing type of thyroid cancer that occurs most often in elderly women.
How Can Houston Methodist Help?
At Houston Methodist, our physicians are dedicated to providing the best possible screening and treatment care to our patients, as well as leading-edge diagnosis and treatment options that deliver the best possible results.
Our continued commitment to research enables us to improve present and future cancer care. Learn about our current cancer-related clinical trials.