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The Prognosis with Thyroid Cancer

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What is the prognosis with thyroid cancer? Some types of this cancer have a high survival rate, while others have a lower rate due to the aggressiveness of the cancer.

Papillary Thyroid Cancer

Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer, and also has a good prognosis. MedlinePlus noted that more than 95 percent of adult patients survive at least 10 years post-diagnosis.

Prognosis is dependent on certain factors. For example, patients who have small thyroid gland tumors or who are younger than age 40 have a better prognosis.

People who have a large tumor or are older than age 45, however, have a worse prognosis. Other factors that affect the prognosis with papillary thyroid cancer include cancer that spread to the soft tissue or to distant parts of the patient’s body.

Follicular Thyroid Cancer

While follicular thyroid cancer is a fast-growing type of thyroid cancer, it can have a good prognosis. The survival rate for follicular thyroid cancer depends on the pathology of the tumor. Unfortunately, surgery is the best way to obtain a sufficient sample to be examined.

Tumors with venous capsular invasion or microscopic capsular invasion can have a cure rate of 99 percent while other tumors may only have a 40 percent, 10-year survival rate, according to Columbia University Medical Center.

Medullary Thyroid Cancer

The prognosis for medullary thyroid cancer can vary. Patients with familial medullary thyroid cancer have the best prognosis, while patients with MEN 2B associated medullary thyroid cancer have the worst.

Columbia University Medical Center noted that when the cancer is found early and has not spread beyond the thyroid gland, the 10-year survival rate is 80 percent. But when the cancer spreads to the lymph nodes or other areas of the body, such as the liver, the rate decreases to 25 percent. MedlinePlus added that women who are younger than 40 years older have a better prognosis.

Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer

Of all the types of thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer has the worst prognosis. It is an aggressive form of cancer, and, according to Columbia University Medical Center, the five-year survival rate is under 5 percent. MedlinePlus added that most patients with anaplastic thyroid cancer do not survive past six months.


MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Thyroid Cancer – Papillary Carcinoma. Web. 11 January 2012

Columbia University Medical Center. Follicular Thyroid Cancer. Web. 11 January 2012

Columbia University Medical Center. Medullary Thyroid Cancer. Web. 11 January 2012

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. Web. 11 January 2012

Columbia University Medical Center. Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer. Web. 11 January 2012

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Thyroid Cancer. Web. 11 January 2012

Reviewed January 12, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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