Follicular cell-derived thyroid cancer

Henning Dralle, Andreas MacHens, Johanna Basa, Vahab Fatourechi, Silvia Franceschi, Ian D. Hay, Yuri E. Nikiforov, Furio Pacini, Janice L. Pasieka, Steven I. Sherman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Follicular cell-derived thyroid cancers are derived from the follicular cells in the thyroid gland, which secrete the iodine-containing thyroid hormones. Follicular cell-derived thyroid cancers can be classified into papillary thyroid cancer (80-85%), follicular thyroid cancer (10-15%), poorly differentiated thyroid cancer (<2%) and undifferentiated (anaplastic) thyroid cancer (<2%), and these have an excellent prognosis with the exception of undifferentiated thyroid cancer. The advent and expansion of advanced diagnostic techniques has driven and continues to drive the epidemic of occult papillary thyroid cancer, owing to overdiagnosis of clinically irrelevant nodules. This transformation of the thyroid cancer landscape at molecular and clinical levels calls for the modification of management strategies towards personalized medicine based on individual risk assessment to deliver the most effective but least aggressive treatment. In thyroid cancer surgery, for instance, injuries to structures outside the thyroid gland, such as the recurrent laryngeal nerve in 2-5% of surgeries or the parathyroid glands in 5-10% of surgeries, negatively affect quality of life more than loss of the expendable thyroid gland. Furthermore, the risks associated with radioiodine ablation may outweigh the risks of persistent or recurrent disease and disease-specific mortality. Improvement in the health-related quality of life of survivors of follicular cell-derived thyroid cancer, which is decreased despite the generally favourable outcome, hinges on early tumour detection and minimization of treatment-related sequelae. Future opportunities include more widespread adoption of molecular and clinical risk stratification and identification of actionable targets for individualized therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number15077
JournalNature Reviews Disease Primers
StatePublished - Dec 10 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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