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Thyroid cancer

Thyroid Cancer Overview

Thyroid cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the thyroid gland.

The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the trachea (windpipe). It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. The isthmus, a thin piece of tissue, connects the two lobes. A healthy thyroid is a little larger than a quarter. It usually cannot be felt through the skin.

The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to help make several hormonesThyroid hormones do the following:

  • Control heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy (metabolism).
  • Control the amount of calcium in the blood.

There are four main types of thyroid cancer:

See the PDQ summary on Unusual Cancers of Childhood Treatment for information about childhood thyroid cancer.

 

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's Physician Data Query (PDQ(r)) Cancer Information Summaries (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq). Date Last Modified: April 2, 2015

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Last Reviewed: Apr 14, 2015

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