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Thyroid cancer

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Survival statistics for thyroid cancer

Survival statistics for thyroid cancer are very general estimates and must be interpreted very carefully. Because these statistics are based on the experience of groups of people, 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 similar 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 their diagnosis as people in the general population.

Survival by stage and type of tumour

Survival varies with each stage and type of thyroid cancer. The following factors can also affect survival for thyroid cancer.

  • Generally, the earlier thyroid cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.
  • There are effective treatments available for thyroid cancer.
  • Papillary carcinoma, the most common type of thyroid cancer, often responds well to cancer treatment.
  • Papillary carcinoma tends to grow slowly.

There are no specific Canadian statistics available for the different stages of thyroid cancer. The following information comes from a variety of sources and may include statistics from other countries.

Thyroid cancer survival

Stage5-year relative survival

localized (cancer is only in the thyroid)

100%

regional (cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes)

98%

distant (cancer has spread to organs in another part of the body)

54%

Papillary carcinoma survival

Stage5-year relative survival

I

100%

II

100%

III

93%

IV

51%

Follicular carcinoma survival

Stage5-year relative survival

I

100%

II

100%

III

71%

IV

50%

Medullary carcinoma survival

Stage5-year relative survival

I

100%

II

98%

III

81%

IV

28%

Anaplastic carcinoma survival

All anaplastic carcinomas are stage IV. The 5-year relative survival is about 7%.

Questions about survival

Talk to your doctor about prognosis. Prognosis depends on many factors, including:

  • your health history
  • type of thyroid 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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