Malignant neoplasm of the thyroid gland is the uncontrolled growth of harmful cells within the thyroid--otherwise known as thyroid cancer. Roughly 37,000 Americans are diagnosed with this disease each year.
The thyroid gland sits below the Adam’s apple, at the base of the neck. It produces hormones that regulate body functions such as temperature, heart rate and blood pressure.
There are four main types of thyroid malignancy, in order of common occurrence: papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer are typically quite treatable, with cure rates approaching 97 percent in young patients. Medullary thyroid cancer is less treatable; anaplastic thyroid cancer, although rare, is frequently incurable by the time a diagnosis is made.
Treatment options for thyroid cancer include surgery followed by lifelong thyroid hormone therapy; external radiation therapy; chemotherapy; and use of radioactive iodine.
Prevention of thyroid cancer is typically not possible. But individuals with a genetic risk for the disease may seek out preemptive thyroid surgery.