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Thyroid Cancer develops when thyroid cells divide in an abnormal way into one of the four types of Thyroid Cancer – What you need to know!


  • Average survival rate after 5 years is 97% with early diagnosis and treatments
  • Early detection, diagnosis and treatment is important for a positive outcome
  • Thyroid cancer occurs when cells within the thyroid gland divide and grow in a disorderly manner and become malignant
  • 2744 women and 1041 men are estimated to be diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer during 2020
  • Thyroid Cancer was the 9th most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia in 2016, with 2020 estimated figures to remain the same
  • Thyroid Cancer increased from 363 in 1982 to 2973 in 2016
  • Thyroid Cancer is divided into four main types; Papillary, Follicular, Medullary and Anaplastic.
  • Thyroid Cancer can affect all Australians of all age groups and demographics
  • Statistics show Thyroid Cancer is increasing amongst younger Australian women are more at risk


  1. Papillary cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer, representing approximately 70% of all cases. Papillary cancer develops from the thyroid’s follicular cells with a tumour forming in one lobe of the gland.
  2. Follicular cancer is the second most common type of thyroid cancer, with about 25% represented. This cancer also develops from the thyroid’s follicular cells.
  3. Medullary cancer is less common, representing about 4% of all thyroid cancers. This cancer develops from the C-cells. It can be linked to an inherited faulty gene, or occur sporadically. A patient can inherit familial medullary thyroid cancer (FMTC or a type of multiple endocrine neoplasia (Men) syndrome. This puts the patient at risk of developing endocrine tumours.
  4. Anaplastic is a very rare form of thyroid cancer. It is most common in elderly people. Representing 1% of all thyroid cancers. This type of cancer develops from the follicular cells, or may develop from undiagnosed papillary or follicular thyroid cancer.


If you have any change of voice, an unexplained cough, breathlessness or difficulty swallowing, then a thyroid problem could be the cause and a thyroid ultrasound is indicated.

Lumps in the thyroid more than 1.5 cm should be biopsied if they are not making thyroid hormones.  Biopsy is critical to determine whether lumps are benign or malignant.

Although, if detected early the outcome and recovery is very positive.  There are many reasons why thyroid cancer can develop and all Australians need to be aware, particularly if you have a thyroid disorder, family history of thyroid cancer or symptoms that need to be investigated.

Early detection is essential nothing is overlooked and the ATF are here to help with information and support patients through their journey.

Being aware is important, your thyroid health is essential to your wellbeing, so speak to your doctor, if you have any symptoms or concerns.


Treatment for Thyroid Cancer is surgical removal of the Thyroid Gland, (total thyroidectomy) usually followed by Radioactive Iodine Therapy and lifelong Thyroid Replacement Hormone Therapy (Levothyroxine).  Please read our Treatment and Medications page for more information

Treatment for thyroid cancer is surgical removal of the thyroid gland, (total thyroidectomy) usually followed by radioactive iodine therapy and lifelong thyroxine replacement therapy (Levothyroxine). Please read Treatments and Medications for more information.


  • Thyroid cancer can progress slowly, without obvious symptoms being recognised. Diagnosis can often be determined through an unrelated condition.
  • A painless lump (nodule) which has grown slowly or in some cases, rapidly
  • A hoarse voice
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck

If you have any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor. Initially, your doctor will usually order a Thyroid Ultrasound which shows the size, shape and texture of the gland and determined if a thyroid nodule is a concern.


Tel: +61 (0) 447 834 724


Mailing Address:

PO Box 7161

Norwest NSW 2153



The mission of The Australian Thyroid Foundation Ltd (ATF) is to offer support, information and education to members and their families through the many services provided by The ATF and raise awareness about health consequences of iodine deficiency and the benefits of good thyroid health.

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