What is the definition of Follicular Thyroid Cancer?
Follicular thyroid cancer is a cancer that forms from the follicular cells of the thyroid and is the second most common type of thyroid cancer. It is more common in females. It usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 60 and can be an aggressive disease, as it characteristically invades blood vessels and spreads (metastasizes) to other parts of the body. A sub-type, Hurthle cell cancer, is a rare, more aggressive type of follicular thyroid cancer. While the exact cause is unclear, thyroid cancer develops when genetic mutations occur in thyroid cells that then reproduce rapidly, form a tumor, and spread to other areas, such as lung, bone, brain, liver, bladder, and skin.
What are the symptoms for Follicular Thyroid Cancer?
Since individuals with follicular thyroid cancer can have no symptoms, the cancer is usually found during routine examination with the discovery of a neck mass or nodule, or after having an X-ray of the neck for another reason, or during other medical and/or diagnostic treatments. However, for individuals who do experience symptoms of follicular thyroid cancer, these symptoms can include a large, malignant neck mass more than 4 cm, a fixed mass, soft tissue invasion, vocal cord paralysis, and difficulty swallowing.
What are the current treatments for Follicular Thyroid Cancer?
Treatments for follicular thyroid cancer depend on the mass and include hemi-thyroidectomy (partial removal of thyroid) and removal of the thyroid isthmus, or total thyroidectomy and the removal of neck lymph nodes. After surgery, patients may be placed on thyroid hormone replacement and should have the usual cancer care follow-up. The overall cure rate for follicular thyroid cancer is nearly 95% for small tumors in young patients; however, this rate decreases with age. If follicular thyroid cancer is treated early, it has a good prognosis.