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.