Learn about differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC)
What is differentiated thyroid cancer?
Differentiated thyroid cancer is a disease in which cancer cells develop in the thyroid. These cells often form a mass of tissue known as a tumor.
Some types of thyroid cancer – such as papillary, follicular and Hürthle thyroid cancers – are known as differentiated thyroid cancers.
This means the cancer cells can look and behave like normal thyroid cells. The tumors tend to grow very slowly. Differentiated thyroid cancer makes more than 90% of all thyroid cancers.
What are the stages of differentiated thyroid cancer?
Like many cancers, thyroid cancer can progress or worsen. These phases of progression are called stages. Healthcare professionals assign stages to cancer to evaluate how severe the cancer is and how best to treat it. Thyroid cancer is staged from I to IV and these stages are defined as follows:
In people under 55 years old: the tumor is in the thyroid. The cancer may or may not have spread to lymph nodes. The cancer has not spread to other parts of the body
In people 55 years or older: the tumor is in the thyroid only and is between 2 cm and 4 cm. It has not spread
In people under 55 years old: the cancer has spread beyond the thyroid and neck to other areas of the body
In people aged 55 or older: the tumor in the thyroid is no larger than 4 cm. It has spread to nearby lymph nodes
People 55 years old or younger are only considered Stages I or II
In people aged 55 or older: The tumor is any size and has grown beyond the thyroid into nearby tissues of the neck. The cancer may or may not have spread to lymph nodes. It has not spread to other parts of the body
In people aged 55 or older: The tumor is any size. The cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as distant lymph nodes, internal organs, and bones
What are the treatment options?
Surgery is the most common treatment for people with differentiated thyroid cancer that has not spread. The type of surgery depends on the size and stage of the cancer. It may involve:
- Removing the section where the thyroid cancer is found
- Removing all or most of the thyroid, and possibly, the lymph nodes near the cancer
Radiation therapy uses high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. It may be used after surgery to kill any remaining thyroid cancer cells.
Radioactive Iodine Therapy
Radioactive iodine therapy (RAI) is sometimes used to treat differentiated thyroid cancer. It collects in thyroid cancer cells that have spread to other places in the body. It can destroy them without harming other tissue.
Chemotherapy involves giving drugs by mouth or through a tube or needle, directly into the bloodstream. It kills cancer cells or stops them from dividing. It can reach cancer cells throughout the body.
Thyroid Hormone Therapy
Thyroid hormone therapy removes hormones or blocks their actions to stop cancer cells from growing.
Targeted therapy is a category of treatment including drugs that target specific features of cancer cells that help them grow. They may also affect normal cells, causing side effects. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) are one type of targeted therapy used to treat thyroid cancer.
- TKIs block proteins known to send signals that tell cancer cells to grow. Without these signals, the tumor may stop growing or shrink.
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How CABOMETYX may help you
CABOMETYX is proven to help certain people with differentiated thyroid cancer.