Thursday, October 16, 2008


People facing thyroid cancer are naturally concerned about what the future holds.Thyroid cancer is a serious disease in which cancer cells first develop in the thyroid gland.Understanding thyroid cancer and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones:

Plan the course of treatment: surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are some of the options for treating thyroid cancer.

Think about lifestyle changes

Make decisions about their quality of life, finances and more (such as healthcare proxy, healthcare directives, children's guardianship, power of attorney or last will and testament.

Many people with thyroid cancer want to know their thyroid cancer prognosis. They may ask their doctor or search for thyroid cancer statistics on their own. An estimated 30,180 Americans have been newly diagnosed with thyroid cancer every year since 2006 and that information alone may create more questions than answers.

What Is a Thyroid Cancer Prognosis?

A prognosis is a medical opinion as to the likely course and outcome of a disease. In other words, the prognosis is the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence (return of the cancer). There are many factors that can affect a person's prognosis, which include:

  • The type and location of the cancer.
  • The stage of the disease (the extent to which the cancer has metastasized, or spread).
  • Its grade (how abnormal the cancer cells look, and how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread)
  • The person's age, general health, and response to treatment.

When doctors consider a person's prognosis, they carefully examine all of the factors that could affect that person's disease and treatment, and then try to predict what might happen.

The doctor bases the thyroid cancer prognosis on information researchers have collected over many years about hundreds, or even thousands, of people with cancer. When possible, the doctor will use statistics based on groups of people whose situations are most similar to that of an individual patient.

The doctor may speak of a favorable thyroid cancer prognosis if the cancer is likely to respond well to treatment. The thyroid cancer prognosis may be unfavorable if the cancer is likely to be difficult to control. However, it is important to remember that a prognosis is only a prediction -- the doctor cannot be absolutely certain about the outcome for a particular patient.

Factors Influencing a Thyroid Cancer Prognosis

The thyroid cancer prognosis will depend on:

(1)The stage of thyroid cancer (see Thyroid Cancer Staging).

(2)The type of thyroid cancer cells and how tthey look under a microscope.

(3)The patient's age and general health.

The prognosis is better for patients younger than 40 years of age who have cancer that has not spread beyond the thyroid.

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