Thyroid Cancer (Papillary Carcinoma)

Papillary carcinoma of the thyroid is the most typical cancer of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is located inside the front of the lower neck.

Papillary thyroid cancer or papillary thyroid carcinoma is the most common type of thyroid cancer, representing 75 percent to 85 percent of all thyroid cancer cases. It happens more regularly in women and presents in the 20– 55 year age group. It is also the predominant cancer enter children with thyroid cancer, and in patients with thyroid cancer who have had previous radiation to the head and neck. It is frequently well-differentiated, slow-growing, and localized, although it can metastasize.


About 80% of all thyroid cancers diagnosed in the United States are the papillary carcinoma type. It is more typical in women than in men. It might occur in youth, but is frequently seen in adults between ages 30 and 50.

The reason for this cancer is unidentified. A hereditary problem may be involved.

Radiation increases the risk of developing thyroid cancer. Exposure might occur from:

  • High-dose external radiation treatments to the neck, particularly during childhood, used to treat childhood cancer or some noncancerous childhood conditions
  • Radiation exposure from nuclear plant catastrophes

Radiation given through a vein (through an IV) during medical tests and treatments does not increase the risk of developing thyroid cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

Thyroid cancer typically starts as a small lump (blemish) in the thyroid gland.

While some little lumps may be cancer, the majority of (90%) thyroid blemishes are safe and are not malignant.

Most of the time, there are no other symptoms.


If you have a lump on your thyroid, your doctor will order blood tests and perhaps an ultrasound of the thyroid gland.

If the ultrasound reveals that the lump is larger than 1 centimeter, a special procedure called a great needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) will be performed. This test assists determine if the lump is malignant.

Thyroid function tests are typically normal in individuals with thyroid cancer.


There are 3 types of thyroid cancer treatment:

  • Surgery
  • Radioactive iodine
  • Medicine

Surgery is done to remove as much of the cancer as possible. The bigger the lump, the more of the thyroid gland must be eliminated. Often, the entire gland is secured.

After the surgery, you might get radioiodine therapy, which is often taken by mouth. This substance eliminates any remaining thyroid tissue. It likewise helps make medical images clearer, so physicians can see if there is any cancer left or if it returns later on.

If surgery is not an option, external radiation therapy can be helpful.

After surgery or radioiodine therapy, you will have to take medication called levothyroxine for the rest of your life. This replaces the hormone the thyroid would normally make.

You’ll likely need to have a blood test every 6 to 12 months to inspect thyroid hormone levels. Other follow-up tests that may be done after treatment for thyroid cancer include:

  • Ultrasound of the thyroid
  • An imaging test called a radioactive iodine (I-131) uptake scan

Support Groups

You can ease the stress of disease by signing up with a cancer support system. Showing others who have typical experiences and issues can assist you not feel alone.

Papillary Carcinoma of the Thyroid Prognosis

The survival rate for papillary thyroid cancer is exceptional. More than 95% of adults with this cancer survive a minimum of 10 years. The prognosis is better for people who are below 40 and for those with smaller sized tumors.

The following elements may reduce the survival rate:.

  • Older than 45.
  • Cancer that has infected remote parts of the body.
  • Cancer that has spread to soft tissue.
  • Big tumor.

Stages and Survival Rate

Based on general cancer staging into stages I to IV, papillary thyroid cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 100 percent for stages I and II, 93 percent for stage III and 51 percent for stage IV.

Possible Complications

Complications consist of:

  • Unexpected removal of the parathyroid gland, which helps control blood calcium levels.
  • Damage to a nerve that manages the singing cords.
  • Spreading out of cancer to lymph nodes (uncommon).
  • Spreading out of cancer to other websites (transition).

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your healthcare provider if you have a lump in your neck.

Last modified: February 20, 2017


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