Types of thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is uncommon. Each year, about 2,700 people in the UK are diagnosed with it. It’s more common in women than men.

Types of thyroid cancer

There are different types of thyroid cancer. The information here is on diagnosing and treating follicular and papillary. 


This is the most common type of thyroid cancer. It’s slow-growing and is found more in younger people, mostly women.


This is a less common type of thyroid cancer. It’s usually found in young or middle-aged people.

These two types of thyroid cancer are sometimes grouped together and called differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). They are often treated in the same way. Most people with differentiated thyroid cancers are cured.

Other types of thyroid cancer


Medullary thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer that can run in families.


Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer that is fast-growing.

Thyroid lymphoma

This type of thyroid cancer starts in the lymph tissue of the thyroid. The lymph tissue is part of the body’s lymphatic system. Most thyroid lymphomas are a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

If you would like information about other types of thyroid cancer you can contact our cancer support line on 0808 808 00 00. We have a thyroid cancer information nurse who you can arrange to speak to.

Back to Understanding thyroid cancer

What is cancer?

Cancer is a disease of our cells. Sometimes cells go wrong and become abnormal. They keep dividing to make more abnormal cells which form a lump or tumour.

Cancer and cell types

Cancers are grouped into types. Types of cancer often behave and respond to treatments in different ways.

The thyroid gland

The thyroid gland releases important hormones that keep your body functioning at the correct speed.

Symptoms of thyroid cancer

A painless lump in the neck is the most common symptom of thyroid cancer, but there are others to watch out for.

How is thyroid cancer treated?

There are five main types of cancer treatment. You may receive one, or a combination of treatments, depending on your cancer type.