Some cancer types are strongly associated with chronic inflammatory or infectious diseases whereas others are not, but an inflammatory component is present in most human neoplastic lesions. This review focuses on various aspects of thyroid cancer and inflammation. The incidence of thyroid cancer, in particular of well-differentiated papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTCs), is increased in autoimmune thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Thyroid cancer often has an inflammatory cell infiltrate, which includes lymphocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells and mast cells, whose role in thyroid cancer is still not completely understood. However, most experimental evidence suggests these cells exert a protumorigenic function. Moreover, oncoproteins typically expressed in human PTCs, such as RET/PTC, RAS, and BRAF, trigger a proinflammatory programme in thyreocytes. These data suggest that inflammatory molecules are promising targets for thyroid cancer therapy.
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