Follicular Thyroid Cancer

Key Clinical Characteristics

  • Second most common form of thyroid cancer, this accounts for 5-10% of all thyroid cancer.
  • This form of thyroid cancer is more common among women and older adults.
  • Iodine deficiency, which is common in developing countries, plays a role in the etiology of this cancer.
  • With effective therapy, , long term survival rates exceed 90-95% for most patients with this form of thyroid cancer.
  • Follicular thyroid cancer arises from mutations in specific genes.

Basics of Disease Management

  • A FNA may suggest the possibility of a follicular cancer. Further testing using molecular diagnostics or surgery is often required to make a definitive diagnosis.
  • Surgery is the mainstay of treatment for confirmed follicular thyroid cancer.
  • Thyroidectomy should be performed by an experienced thyroid surgeon.
  • Endocrinologists play a key role in diagnosing and managing patient’s with thyroid cancer. Most patients will require replacement therapy with thyroid hormone (T4) which requires monitoring.
  • Some patients may benefit from treatment with radioactive iodine. This decision is best made in consultation with an endocrinologist or nuclear medicine specialist.
  • Thyroid cancer treatment should be individualized by a team of specialists to ensure the best possible outcome.
  • Follicular thyroid cancers usually produce thyroglobulin that can be measured by a blood test.

Advanced Disease: Special Issues

  • Up to 25% of patients with follicular thyroid cancer may have spread of disease (metastasis) to other parts of the body such as the lungs or bones.
  • Some forms of follicular thyroid cancer, such as Hurthle cell carcinoma, are associated with more aggressive disease.
  • Patients with symptoms due to metastatic thyroid cancer or growth of thyroid cancer in other organs may benefit from consultation with a medical oncologist specializing in thyroid cancer and consideration of targeted therapy or participation in clinical trials.

Participation in Clinical Trials

  • Clinical trials are carefully controlled experiments that are conducted to discover more effective therapies.
  • Some patients with advanced disease may be candidates for participation in clinical trials.
  • Physicians that specialize in care of patients with advanced thyroid cancer can help identify whether you may be an appropriate candidate for participation in a clinical trial.
  • Consultation with a thyroid cancer specialist to consider new forms of therapy for thyroid cancer is encouraged for patients with advanced disease.



International Thyroid Oncology Group
5166 Commercial Drive
Yorkville, New York 13495