Differentiated Thyroid Cancer

Also known as: DTC, papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, Hurthle cell thyroid cancer.

What is differentiated thyroid cancer?

Differentiated thyroid cancer (tumors that spreads) includes papillary thyroid cancers (80-90% of all DTC diagnoses) and follicular thyroid cancers (5-10%). (Hurthle cell cancers while being a different type of thyroid cancer is often considered with Follicular thyroid cancers). (Medullary thyroid cancers (MTC) are from different thyroid cells, make up about 5% of pediatric thyroid malignancies and are associated with other types of cancers).

Thyroid malignancies are the most common form of endocrine gland malignancy in children though rarely occurring before age 10 years (most occur in the 15-19 year age group). In general papillary thyroid cancers in children have much better outcomes than adults even though the majority, at the time of diagnoses tend to be more advanced and have spread to lymph nodes in the neck. Thyroid cancers are found equally in boys and girls until age 15 years, after which they become more common in girls.

What causes differentiated thyroid cancer? 

Several gene changes can lead to the development of differentiated thyroid cancer. Risk factors include radiation exposure, previous chemotherapy, a low-iodine diet with thyroid deficiency, family history or certain other medical conditions.

What are the symptoms of differentiated thyroid cancer? 

Most (40-80%) childhood thyroid nodules are asymptomatic and are only detected by physicians or parents feeling one or more painless firm neck nodules. Symptoms might include a tender lump, redness of the skin in the neck, voice changes, and trouble swallowing (uncommon).

What are differentiated thyroid cancer care options? 

Treatment is primarily surgical but may include radioactive therapy with iodine, and hormone therapy.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 1/31/2018 8:27:09 AM

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