Thyroid cancer

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If thyroid cancer spreads

Cancer cells can spread from the thyroid to other parts of the body. This spread is called metastasis.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. If thyroid cancer spreads, it can spread to the following.

Regional metastasis

Regional metastasis means that the cancer has spread to organs or tissues close to or around the thyroid, including:

  • muscles, blood vessels or nerves in the neck
  • the larynx (voice box)
  • the trachea (windpipe)
  • the esophagus
  • the hypopharynx (bottom part of the throat)
  • lymph nodes in the neck
  • lymph nodes between the lungs (called mediastinal lymph nodes)

Distant metastasis

Distant metastasis means that the cancer has spread to other parts of the body farther from the thyroid, including:

esophagus

The muscular tube in the neck and chest through which food passes from the pharynx (throat) to the stomach.

Esophageal means referring to or having to do with the esophagus, as in esophageal cancer.

Also called the gullet.

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Great progress has been made

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Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.

Learn more