Types of Thyroid Cancer

Five main types of Thyroid Cancer

  1. Papillary Carcinoma (80%)
  2. Follicular Carcinoma (10%)
  3. Medullary Carcinoma (5%)
  4. Hurthle Cell Carcinoma (4%)
  5. Anaplastic/Undifferentiated Carcinoma (1-2%)

P’s of Papillary Thyroid Cancer:

  • Popular (most common type – 80%)
  • Psammoma bodies
  • Palpable Lymph Nodes – common
  • Positive Iodine 131 uptake
  • Positive Prognosis
  • Postoperative Iodine 131 to diagnose / treat metastasis if a total thyroidectomy was done.

F’s of Follicular Cancer of the Thyroid

  • Far away metastasis (spreads hematogenously)
  • FNA NOT (FNA cannot be done to diagnosis Follicular Cancer of the thyroid
  • Female predominance (3:1)

M’s of Medullary Cancer of the Thyroid

  • MEN II (Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia type II)
  • aMyloid
  • Median Lymph Node dissection
  • Modified neck dissection if lateral nodes are positive
  • Secretes Calcitonin
  • Stimulated by Pentagastrin
  • Cancer of the Thyroid C cells = parafollicular cells

Calcitonin (tumor marker for MTC)

  • Reduces blood levels of Calcium
  • Opposed the effects of PTH (parathyroid hormone)
  • Calcitonin is used as a tumor marker for medullary thyroid cancer (MTC)


  • Pentagastrin has effects like gastrin
  • Pentagastrin is used as a stimulation test to elevate serotonin levels and cause symptoms of carcinoid syndrome, provoking flushing.
  • Pentagastrin has been used to stimulate ectopic gastric mucosa for the detection of Meckels diverticulum by nuclear medicine.
  • Pentagastrin-stimulated calcitonin test is a diagnostic test for MTC (Medullary carcinoma of the thyroid). ┬áIn patients with suspected MTC but borderline levels of calcitonin, injecting pentagastrin will cause calcitonin levels to rise tremendously.


Thyroid Anatomy
Thyroid Anatomy

Picture from: http://www.washingtonendocrineclinic.com/Thyroid-Care.html