There are three types of thyroid carcinoma originating from follicular cells, papillary carcinoma (PTC), follicular carcinoma (FTC) and anaplastic carcinoma (ATC). PTC and FTC have generally indolent nature but ATC, which is believed to arise from PTC and FTC, are very progressive and display a dire prognosis. PTC and FTC are called differentiated carcinoma and regarded as a single group, but biological characteristics of these two types of carcinoma significantly differ. PTC frequently metastasizes to the regional lymph nodes and FTC generally metastasizes to distant organs such as the lung and bone. Most PTC can be diagnosed on preoperative imaging studies and fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) and can be treated as malignancy. However, it is difficult to diagnose FTC preoperatively and most FTC are diagnosed on postoperative pathological examination. In this review, we describe prognostic factors of PTC and FTC and their therapeutic strategies. Furthermore, recent advances of treatment for ATC are also described.
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