Main Types

There are five main thyroid cancer types:

  • Papillary
  • Follicular
  • Medullary
  • Anaplastic
  • Lymphoma


Papillary
This is the most common type and often presents in young women. However, this does not mean it cannot be found in older people, children and men. If this type of cancer spreads it often goes to the lymph glands/nodes in the neck or nearby although, like with any cancer, it can spread elsewhere.

Follicular
This is the second most common type and tends to occur in a slightly older group. This type of cancer is much less likely to spread to the lymph glands and may spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream.

Medullary
This is a much rarer type. In a quarter of patients (25%) this cancer is caused by an inherited faulty gene (called the RET proto oncogene) that can run in families.

If this type of cancer is diagnosed it is usual to check to see if it is the inherited type so that other family members can be offered screening blood tests to see if they are at risk and whether they need any treatment.

If a parent has the inherited form of medullary thyroid cancer there is a 50% (1 in 2) chance that each of their children could also have inherited the faulty gene.

The inherited type can also be associated with other uncommon cancers and patients may be diagnosed with MEN 2 syndrome (Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia syndrome 2). For more information go to http://www.amend.org.uk

If you have medullary cancer and are interested in participating in our project, please click here.

Anaplastic
This is another rare type of thyroid cancer and tends to present at an older age. The majority of patients are older than 60 years. It tends to grow more quickly than the other types and can be difficult to treat.

If you have anaplastic cancer and are interested in participating in our data collection project, please click here.

The National Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer Tissue Bank and Database project (NATT) was launched in 2013. The project offers patients with this diagnosis a rare opportunity to participate in research.  By collecting tissue and blood samples along with clinical information from across the UK we will be able to gather a significant amount of data which will help us make progress with research in to this difficult to treat disease. We hope to learn more about why and how this type of cancer develops so that we can then develop new ways to treat it. This is going to be a long term project which will need to run over a number of years.

Patients who are interested in taking part will be asked to provide their consent for their already collected tissue samples (e.g. thyroid gland biopsy) to be donated to NATT. They will also have the option to donate a small blood sample and to have their clinical data collected. This will be stored securely and confidentially and will only be accessible by your own doctor and the study's chief investigator.

If you would like to find out more about NATT please contact the Chief Investigator via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 029 20316205

Lymphoma
Non Hodgkin’s lymphoma is another rare thyroid tumour. It is treated like lymphomas that can arise anywhere in the body rather than like the other types of thyroid cancer. The treatment in this case may involve chemotherapy (drug treatment), monoclonal antibody therapy (e.g. rituximab) and radiotherapy (x ray treatment). For further information - www.lymphoma.org

Category: Thyroid
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We are the only registered charity in Wales supporting this rare form of cancer   l    Tel: 0845 009 2737   l   Registered Charity No 1113774