What Is Malignant Neoplasm of the Thyroid Gland?

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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 Facts

  • 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.

Types

  • There are four main types of thyroid malignancy, in order of common occurrence: papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancer.

Significance

  • 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

  • Treatment options for thyroid cancer include surgery followed by lifelong thyroid hormone therapy; external radiation therapy; chemotherapy; and use of radioactive iodine.

Prevention

  • Prevention of thyroid cancer is typically not possible. But individuals with a genetic risk for the disease may seek out preemptive thyroid surgery.

References

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