Types of thyroid cancer

Thyroid cancer is not common. Each year, about 3,400 people in the UK are diagnosed with it. It is more common in women than men. Like most types of cancer, thyroid cancer is more common in people as they get older.

Types of thyroid cancer

There are different types of thyroid cancer.


This is the most common type of thyroid cancer. It is usually slow-growing. Papillary thyroid cancer is more common in younger people and in women.


This is a less common type of thyroid cancer. It is mostly found in middle-aged people.

This information is about papillary and follicular thyroid cancer. These two types of thyroid cancer together are sometimes called differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC). About 9 in 10 thyroid cancers (90%) are DTC. They are often treated in the same way. Most people with DTC are cured.

Other types of thyroid cancer


Medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) is a rare type of thyroid cancer that can sometimes run in families.


Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a very 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.

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Back to Understanding thyroid cancer

Signs and symptoms

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

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.

Why do cancers come back?

Sometimes, tiny cancer cells are left behind after cancer treatment. These can divide to form a new tumour.