About Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid GlandThe thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ that sits below the Adam's apple in the front of the neck. The thyroid gland makes hormones that regulate the body's response to hot and cold, the energy level of the body, and weight and appetite.

Thyroid cancer in children is rare and often cured. Exposure to head and neck irradiation results in an increased risk. Approximately 950 children under 20 are affected by thyroid cancer in the United States each year. Survival rates among children are nearly 100%.

There are four types of thyroid cancer:

  • Papillary thyroid carcinoma: a slow-growing cancer that is the most common type.
  • Follicular thyroid carcinoma: a slow-growing cancer that has high rates of successful treatment.
  • Medullary thyroid carcinoma: a cancer that may be part of an inherited syndrome (multiple endocrine neoplasia) that affects the thyroid's ability to maintain a healthy balance of calcium in the blood.
  • Anaplastic thyroid carcinomas: a rare and aggressive form.

Thyroid cancer is usually detected by the appearance of a lump in the neck and/or an enlarged lymph node. The nodule usually does not cause any symptoms. Symptoms that may occur include trouble breathing or swallowing, or changes in a child's voice.

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