Thyroid cancer (carcinoma) is cancer affecting the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped structure located at the base of the neck. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, the network of glands that secrete hormones that regulate the chemical processes (metabolism) that influence the body's activities as well as regulating the heart rate, body temperature, and blood pressure. Hormones are secreted directly into the bloodstream where they travel to various areas of the body.
In many cases, there are no symptoms (asymptomatic) associated with thyroid cancer. Pain in the neck, hoarseness and swollen lymph nodes especially in the neck may be present in some cases. Although thyroid cancer is relatively uncommon, it is the most common form of cancer affecting the endocrine system. Most forms rarely cause pain or disability and are easily treated with surgery and follow-up therapy. However, some forms are aggressive and more difficult to treat.
The term "cancer" refers to a group of diseases characterized by abnormal, uncontrolled cellular growth that invades surrounding tissues and may spread (metastasize) to distant bodily tissues or organs via the bloodstream, the lymphatic system, or other means. Different forms of cancer, including thyroid cancer, may be classified based upon the cell type involved, the specific nature of the malignancy, and the disease's clinical course. The four main types of thyroid cancer are papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic. Rare forms of thyroid cancer include thyroid teratoma, lymphoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Malignant cells pass their abnormal changes on to all their "daughter" cells and typically grow and divide at an unusually rapid, uncontrolled rate that cannot be contained by the body's natural immune defenses. Eventually, such proliferation of abnormal cells may result in formation of a mass known as a tumor (neoplasm). Disease progression may be characterized by invasion of surrounding tissues, infiltration of regional lymph nodes, and spread of the malignancy via the bloodstream, the lymphatic circulation, or other means to other bodily tissues and organs.
American Cancer Society, Inc. 250 Williams NW St Ste 6000 Atlanta, GA 30303 USA Tel: (404)320-3333 Tel: (800)227-2345 TDD: (866)228-4327 Internet: http://www.cancer.org
National Cancer Institute 6116 Executive Blvd Suite 300 Bethesda, MD 20892-8322 USA Tel: (301)435-3848 Tel: (800)422-6237 TDD: (800)332-8615 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://www.cancer.gov
American Thyroid Association 6066 Leesburg Pike, Suite 550 Falls Church, VA 22041 USA Tel: (703)998-8890 Fax: (703)998-8893 Email: email@example.com Internet: http://www.thyroid.org
Rare Cancer Alliance 1649 North Pacana Way Green Valley, AZ 85614 USA Internet: http://www.rare-cancer.org
Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center PO Box 8126 Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126 Tel: (301)251-4925 Fax: (301)251-4911 Tel: (888)205-2311 TDD: (888)205-3223 Internet: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/
ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association, Inc. PO Box 1545 New York, NY 10159-1545 Fax: (630)604-6078 Tel: (877)588-7904 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://www.thyca.org
Friends of Cancer Research 1800 M Street NW Suite 1050 South Washington, DC 22202 Tel: (202)944-6700 Email: email@example.com Internet: http://www.focr.org
Cancer.Net American Society of Clinical Oncology 2318 Mill Road Suite 800 Alexandria, VA 22314 Tel: (571)483-1780 Fax: (571)366-9537 Tel: (888)651-3038 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://www.cancer.net/
Cancer Support Community 1050 17th St NW Suite 500 Washington, DC 20036 Tel: (202)659-9709 Fax: (202)974-7999 Tel: (888)793-9355 Internet: http://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/
Lance Armstrong Foundation 2201 E. Sixth Street Austin, TX 78702 Tel: (512)236-8820 Fax: (512)236-8482 Tel: (877)236-8820 Email: email@example.com Internet: http://www.livestrong.org
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Last Updated: 1/25/2013 Copyright 2006, 2013 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.
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