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Thyroid cancer

Cancer forms occurring in the thyroid gland differ biologically, which lead to differences in disease courses and prognoses after treatment.

About 90% of the cases originate from malignant tumors from the epithelial cells of the thyroid follicles. Most of the cases are papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC).  

The incidence of palpable nodules is about 5% of the adult population, but with ultrasound, nodules are found in up to 70%. Only a small amount of these are malignant.

Increasing use of image diagnostics for other indications will detect tumors in the thyroid gland as a secondary finding.

Cancer types of the thyroid gland

  • Differentiated follicle epithelial-derived
  • Papillary thyroid carcinoma  (PTC)
  • Follicular thyroid carcinoma (FTC)
  • Undifferentiated anaplastic thyroid carcinoma and moderately differentiated thyroid carcinoma
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC)
  • Other


Thyroid cancer represents 3.8% of all new cancer cases in the United States. Approximately 1.2% of men and women will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer at some point during their lifetime.Thyroid cancer is most frequently diagnosed among people aged 45-54 and is more common in women than men.

In 2017, it is estimated to be 56,870 new cases of thyroid cancer in the United States (1).


Age-specific incidence of thyroid cancer, 2009–2013.

Source: Cancer Registry of Norway



Incidence of thyroid cancer, 1954–2013.

Source: Cancer Registry of Norway


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