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Thyroid cancer

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Survival statistics for thyroid cancer

Survival statistics are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people in the general population, they cannot be used to predict a particular person’s chances of survival.

There are many different ways to measure and report cancer survival statistics. Your doctor can explain the statistics for thyroid cancer and what they mean to you.

Relative Survival

Relative survival looks at how likely people with cancer are to survive after their diagnosis compared to people in the general population who do not have cancer, but who share the same characteristics (such as age and sex).

In Canada, a 5-year relative survival statistic is reported for thyroid cancer.

The 5-year relative survival for thyroid cancer is 98%. This means that, on average, people diagnosed with thyroid cancer are 98% as likely to live 5 years after diagnosis as people in the general population.

Survival by tumour type and stage

Survival varies with each type of thyroid cancer and its stage.

Papillary thyroid cancer survival

Stage5-year survival

I

100%

II

100%

III

93%

IV

51%

Follicular thyroid cancer survival

Stage5-year survival

I

100%

II

100%

III

71%

IV

50%

Anaplastic thyroid cancer survival

All anaplastic thyroid cancers are classified as stage IV. The 5-year survival is approximately 7%.

Medullary thyroid cancer survival

Stage5-year survival

I

100%

II

98%

III

81%

IV

28%

Questions about survival

People with thyroid cancer should talk to their doctor about their prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors including:

  • a person’s medical history
  • type of cancer
  • stage
  • characteristics of the cancer
  • treatments chosen
  • response to treatment

Only a doctor familiar with these factors can put all of this information together with survival statistics to arrive at a prognosis.

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