Senior Consultant physician and endocrinologist Prof. Dr. Nor Azmi Kamaruddin discusses a lesser known cancer – that of the thyroid.
When you mention ‘The BIG C’, most people think of cancer of the breast cervix, lung, stomach or colon. Thyroid cancer is just as big a deal, but it is often not given the attention it deserves. Prof Dr Nor Azmi enlightens us on this seldom mentioned condition.
Types of thyroid Cancer
“Thyroid cancers can be broadly divided into two main groups: well differentiated thyroid cancers (WDTC) and poorly differentiated thyroid cancers (PDTC)”, says Prof Nor Azmi. This differentiation is based is the ability of the cancer cells to take up the iodine – WDTC takes up iodine, while PDTC does not.
Under normal (non Cancer) circumstances, thyroid cells take up iodine from food and use it to make thyroxine. Thyroxine is an important hormone for maintaining normal body metabolism.
The majority (up to 95%) of thyroid cancers are of the well differentiated variety. WDTC are further divided into two main classifications: papillary thyroid cancers (PTC) and follicular thyroid cancers (FTC). Up to 80% of WDTC are papillary thyroid cancers, an example being anaplastic thyroid cancer. Incidentally, the thyroid gland can also be invaded by cancers from other parts of the body, eg. lymphoma. Thyroid cancer can affect any age group.
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