CausesBy Mayo Clinic staff
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It's not clear what causes thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer occurs when cells in your thyroid undergo genetic changes (mutations). The mutations allow the cells to grow and multiply rapidly. The cells also lose the ability to die, as normal cells would. The accumulating abnormal thyroid cells form a tumor. The abnormal cells can invade nearby tissue and can spread throughout the body.
Types of thyroid cancer
The type of thyroid cancer determines treatment and prognosis. Types of thyroid cancer include:
- Papillary thyroid cancer. The papillary type of thyroid cancer is the most common, making up about 80 percent of all thyroid cancer diagnoses.
- Follicular thyroid cancer. Follicular thyroid cancer also includes Hurthle cell cancer.
- Medullary thyroid cancer. Medullary thyroid cancer may be associated with inherited genetic syndromes that include tumors in other glands. However, most medullary thyroid cancers are sporadic, meaning they aren't associated with inherited genetic syndromes.
- Anaplastic thyroid cancer. The anaplastic type of thyroid cancer is very rare, aggressive and very difficult to treat.
- Thyroid lymphoma. Thyroid lymphoma begins in the immune system cells in the thyroid. Thyroid lymphoma is very rare.
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