Symptoms Of Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cancer usually develops slowly, without many obvious symptoms. However, some people experience one or more of the following:
- a painless lump in the neck
- trouble swallowing
- changes to the voice
- swollen lymph glands in the neck .
Although a painless lump in the neck is a typical sign of thyroid cancer, thyroid lumps are common and turn out to be benign in 90% of adults. Having an underactive or overactive thyroid is not typically a sign of thyroid cancer.
Not everyone with these symptoms has thyroid cancer. If you have any of these symptoms or are worried, always see your doctor.
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Where Do These Numbers Come From
The American Cancer Society relies on information from the SEER* database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.
The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for thyroid cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:
- Localized: There is no sign the cancer has spread outside of the thyroid.
- Regional: The cancer has spread outside of the thyroid to nearby structures.
- Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body, such as the bones.
Thyroid Cancer: Survival Rates And Prognosis
After a thyroid cancer diagnosis, theres a lot of information to process. The cancers stage is an important piece of your diagnosis. Staging helps guide thyroid cancer treatment. The cancers stage is also one of factors doctors use to help you understand your thyroid cancer prognosis. In general, thyroid cancer has a better outlook compared to other types of cancers. Heres a look at the survival rates for the different types and stages of thyroid cancer.
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External Beam Radiation Therapy
External beam radiation therapy uses a controlled dose of radiation to kill cancer cells or damage them so they cannot grow, multiply or spread.
Most people diagnosed with thyroid cancer do not need EBRT, but it may be recommended in particular circumstances. In a small number of cases, it may be given:
- after surgery and RAI treatment if the cancer has not been completely removed or if there is a high risk of the cancer returning
- as palliative treatment to relieve symptoms such as pain caused by cancer that has spread to nearby tissue or structures
- to help control medullary or anaplastic thyroid cancer .
Radiation therapy is usually given 5 days a week over several weeks. You may be fitted for a plastic mask to wear during treatment, which will help you stay still so that the radiation is targeted at the same area of your neck during each session.
Thyroid Cancer Survival Rate Survival Rates Based On Stages And Types
Thyroid cancer survival rate is high when compared to other cancers. It is a cancer but not as deadly as breast cancer, leukemia or HIV. The average survival rate of this cancer is actually 95%. It means there is a high chance for a patient to get cured. However, you must not be confident regarding this condition. It is still advisable that you get treatment as soon as possible especially if the tumor or lump has not yet become malignant. Plus, you get to spend a much cheaper medical expense if you get treated during the early stages.
Thyroid cancer survival rate
Thyroid cancer mostly affects women than men. There is no specific explanation to that but probably the Adams apple of men can somehow give protection against the possible growth of malignant tumors. Yet, causes of thyroid cancer in both men and women are the same. It can be due to hereditary or radiation exposure from a very high level.
There are four major groups of thyroid cancer which are papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, and anaplastic thyroid cancer. Each of these types has differences when it comes to the thyroid cancer survival rate.
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Thyroid Cancer Is A Disease In Which Malignant Cells Form In The Tissues Of The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid is a gland at the base of the throat near the trachea . It is shaped like a butterfly, with a right lobe and a left lobe. The isthmus, a thin piece of tissue, connects the two lobes. A healthy thyroid is a little larger than a quarter. It usually cannot be felt through the skin.
The thyroid uses iodine, a mineral found in some foods and in iodized salt, to help make several hormones. Thyroid hormones do the following:
- Control heart rate, body temperature, and how quickly food is changed into energy .
- Control the amount of calcium in the blood.
How Common Is Thyroid Cancer
The American Cancer Societys most recent estimates for thyroid cancer in the United States for 2022 are:
- About 43,800 new cases of thyroid cancer
- About 2,230 deaths from thyroid cancer
The death rate for thyroid cancer increased slightly from 2009 to 2018 but appears to have stabilized in recent years. Statistics on survival rates for thyroid cancer are discussed in Survival Rates for Thyroid Cancer.
Thyroid cancer is commonly diagnosed at a younger age than most other adult cancers. And women are 3 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men.
Until recently, thyroid cancer was the most rapidly increasing cancer in the US, largely due to increased detection. Much of this rise appears to be the result of the use of more sensitive diagnostic procedures, such as CT or MRI scans , which can detect incidental small thyroid nodules that might not otherwise have been found in the past.
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Prognosis And Survival For Thyroid Cancer
If you have thyroid cancer, you may have questions about your prognosis. A prognosis is the doctors best estimate of how cancer will affect someone and how it will respond to treatment. Prognosis and survival depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with your medical history, the type, stage and characteristics of your cancer, the treatments chosen and the response to treatment can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.
A prognostic factor is an aspect of the cancer or a characteristic of the person that the doctor will consider when making a prognosis. A predictive factor influences how a cancer will respond to a certain treatment. Prognostic and predictive factors are often discussed together. They both play a part in deciding on a treatment plan and a prognosis.
The following are prognostic and predictive factors for thyroid cancer.
Life After Thyroid Cancer Surgery
Congrats! You have finished the most important step in your thyroid cancer treatment: surgery to remove the disease. Take a few deep breaths and relax. I want to walk you through what your life after thyroid cancer surgery will look like.
Since the 1970s, the incidence of thyroid cancer has doubled. Until recently, thyroid cancer was the fastest growing cancer in the United States, mainly due to our ability to detect these cancers so well . Thyroid cancer is the 5th most common cancer in women. Overall, the 5-year survival rate for people with thyroid cancer is 98%. The 5-year survival rate is almost 100% for papillary, follicular, and medullary thyroid cancers that have not spread outside of the thyroid gland .
The 5-year survival rate for papillary thyroid cancer that has only spread to lymph nodes or tissue in the neck is 99%. For follicular thyroid cancer that only involves the neck, the survival rate is 97%. If there is distant spread to other parts of the body , it is called metastatic disease. The 5-year survival rate for metastatic papillary thyroid cancer is 76%. For metastatic follicular thyroid cancer, the rate is 64%. Medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancers are very rare, making up only 3% of the thyroid cancer cases. They are more aggressive and tend to spread around and outside of the neck more often.
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Early Detection Makes All The Difference For Cancer Patients
The survival rates of all three types of thyroid cancer are substantially better the earlier the disease is detected. At Less Cancer, were advocates for expanded access to healthcare to prevent cancer and many other diseases. We can do more help us by getting involved and donating today.
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Management Of Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer
The major problem with anaplastic thyroid cancer is that it is usually too aggressive and invasive when it is diagnosed.
What are some common anaplastic thyroid cancer treatments? Only a small portion of patients can undergo surgical resection of the cancer in hopes of curing it. For those patients who are diagnosed at an earlier stage, a total thyroidectomy is necessary. Many patients, especially those who have advanced cancer and cannot undergo surgical resection, will benefit from external-beam radiation . Chemotherapy is another anaplastic thyroid cancer treatment option.
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Thyroid Cancer Survival Rate
Most thyroid cancers are very curable. In fact, the most common types of thyroid cancer papillary and follicular cancers have a more than 98% cure rate if theyre caught and treated at an early stage. The earlier you are diagnosed, the less likely it is that your cancer will have spread beyond the thyroid and the easier it is to treat.
Medullary thyroid cancer has a worse prognosis and is likely to include lymph node involvement. Once cancer has entered the lymph nodes it spreads readily through the lymphatic system, meaning your cancer will require more extensive and possibly more aggressive treatment.
The least common type of thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer, has a very poor prognosis. The best results occur when localized anaplastic thyroid cancer is diagnosed early and completely removed via a thyroidectomy, as its very aggressive. Unfortunately, this cancer tends to be found after it has already spread.
Because most people dont die from thyroid cancer, its sometimes called a good cancer to get even by some physicians. Almost everyone I take care of has heard that, Dr. Lieb says. But I take issue with it. Physicians can feel very bad telling people they have cancer, and rather than saying your prognosis is good, some downplay the diagnosis. But there isnt a good cancer.
What Affects Your Prognosis
Stage IV thyroid cancer is cancer that has spread from your thyroid gland to other parts of your neck, lymph nodes, or distant areas of your body like your lungs or bones. Several things have an impact on your prognosis, including:
Your type of thyroid cancer. There are four main kinds:
Each type acts differently. Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common kind. It has the best outlook because it grows slowly. Even when this cancer spreads to the lymph nodes, it responds well to treatment.
Follicular and medullary thyroid cancers are less common than papillary cancer, but their prognosis is good overall. Anaplastic is the fastest-growing type of thyroid cancer, and it doesn’t respond well to treatment.
Your age. People with papillary or follicular cancers who are younger than 40 may have a better outlook than those who are older.
Your health. When you start out in good health, you usually can handle treatment and its side effects better.
How far the cancer has spread. Cancers that have spread just outside the thyroid gland have a better prognosis than those that have spread to distant parts of the body.
Whether you have multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2B . People who have this inherited disease have greater odds of getting medullary thyroid cancer. They are also often diagnosed at a late stage, when the cancer is harder to treat.
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Treatment Of Stage 4 Thyroid Cancer
Stage 4 thyroid cancer is challenging to treat. The treatment options available may help to control the rapid spread of cancer and offer some relief to pain and other symptoms, thereby improving the quality of life. Some of the treatment options available for stage 4 thyroid cancer are-
- For almost all types, the first step in the treatment of stage 4 thyroid cancer is a total thyroidectomy. It is a surgery to remove a part or all of the thyroid.
- For patients diagnosed at earlier stages, whose disease has progressed, any remaining thyroid tissue and involved lymph nodes will likely be removed. This is known as a radical neck dissection.
- Treatment for papillary and follicular carcinomas in stage 4 thyroid cancer involves radioactive iodine treatment. They may become resistant to radioactive iodine and thus may require radiation and chemotherapy.
- Medullary and anaplastic diseases, however, are not sensitive to radioactive iodine. The treatment of stage 4 thyroid cancer, in this case, begins with surgery which is followed by radiation or chemotherapy.
- Further targeted treatments are also available using biomarkers and genetic traits of the tumor.
- Surgical removal of metastases can also be done.
Who Is Most At Risk
There are several risk factors for thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is considered primarily a hereditary type of cancer, so you may notice family history is a common theme.
Populations most at risk of thyroid cancer are:
- Possibly exposed to radiation as a child
- A history of goiters
- A family history of thyroid disease or cancer
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What Are Some Other Papillary Thyroid Cancer Treatments
The other surgical option for patients with papillary thyroid cancer is a total thyroidectomy . An expert pre-operative evaluation of the papillary thyroid cancer patient is required to determine whether there is any involvement of the lymph nodes in the neck. In most circumstances, the involvement of neck lymph nodes can be determined prior to the thyroid surgery procedure. When there is evidence that the papillary thyroid cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck, surgical approaches to the central and lateral neck lymph nodes should be performed.
When neck lymph nodes are involved with papillary thyroid cancer, either during the evaluation of the papillary thyroid cancer or during surgery for the papillary thyroid cancer, the recommended operation is a total thyroidectomy.
Often, other characteristics of the tumor that can be seen under the microscope which may have an influence on whether the surgeon should remove the entire thyroid .
The surgical options are covered in greater detail in our article on for thyroid cancer. A more detailed discussion of thyroid surgery for the thyroid gland and lymph nodes of the neck can be found here.
Survival For Different Types Of Thyroid Cancer
The survival statistics below are from a large European study. They are based on people treated in the UK and Ireland between 2000 and 2007. Treatments improve over time, so people treated now may have a better outlook.
With thyroid cancer, the most important factor that affects survival is the type and stage of thyroid cancer you have.
Survival of 86,690 patients with thyroid cancer: A population-based study in 29 European countries from EUROCARE-5
L Dal Maso and others
European Journal of Cancer Volume 77, pages 140 – 152
These statistics are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.
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Thyroid Cancer: Symptoms Survival Rate And Prevention
Thyroid cancer is the seventh most common cancer in women and claims the lives of roughly 2,200 Americans per year. Until very recently, thyroid cancer was one of the most quickly increasing cancer diagnoses in the US. Better screening has aided early detection, but the various types of thyroid cancer still pose a health risk to thousands of Americans each year.
Use Of Radioactive Iodine And Papillary Thyroid Cancer
Thyroid cells are unique in that they have the cellular mechanism to absorb iodine. The iodine is used by thyroid cells to make thyroid hormone. No other cell in the body can absorb or concentrate iodine in a similar fashion than does the thyroid. Physicians can take advantage of this fact and give radioactive iodine to patients as a treatment option for papillary thyroid cancer. The use of iodine as a cancer therapy was the first targeted therapy ever developed for any type of human cancer.
There are several types of radioactive iodine, with one type being highly toxic to cells. Papillary thyroid cancer cells absorb iodine therefore, they can be destroyed by giving the toxic isotope . Again, not everyone with papillary thyroid cancer needs this treatment, but those with larger tumors, tumors that have spread to lymph nodes or other areas including distant sites, tumors that are aggressive microscopically may benefit from this treatment.
Radioactive iodine therapy is particularly effective in children with thyroid cancer which has spread extensively to lymph nodes and even to distant sites in the body such as the lungs. Although in theory, radioactive iodine is a very attractive treatment approach for papillary thyroid cancer, its use has decreased over the years except for the specific indications as described above.
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