Friday, September 16, 2011

Thyroid Cancer Prognosis by Type and Stage

Survival rates are often used by doctors as a standard way of discussing a person's prognosis (outlook). Some patients with cancer may want to know the survival statistics for people in similar situations, while others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. Whether or not you want to read about the survival statistics below for thyroid cancer is up to you.

The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years (and many are cured).
Five-year relative survival rates assume that some people will die of other causes and compare the observed survival with that expected for people without the cancer. This is a more accurate way to describe the prognosis for patients with a particular type and stage of cancer.
In order to get 5-year survival rates, doctors have to look at people who were treated at least 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may result in a more favorable outlook for people now being diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they cannot predict what will happen in any particular person's case. Many other factors may affect a person's outlook, such as their age and general health. Your doctor can tell you how the numbers below may apply to you, as he or she is familiar with the aspects of your particular situation.
The following survival statistics come from the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (7th ed).
Papillary thyroid cancer 5-year survival rate*
Stage I — 100%
Stage II — 100%
Stage III — 93%
Stage IV— 51%

*based on patients diagnosed 1998 to 1999
Follicular thyroid cancer 5-year survival rate*
Stage I — 100%
Stage II — 100%
Stage III — 71%
Stage IV— 50%
*based on patients diagnosed 1998 to 1999
Note: All the stage III and IV patients with follicular or papillary thyroid cancer are, by definition, over 45 years old.
Medullary thyroid cancer 5-year survival rate**
Stage I — 100%
Stage II — 98%
Stage III — 81%
Stage IV— 28%
**based on patients diagnosed between 1985 and 1991
Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer
The five-year relative survival rate for anaplastic (undifferentiated) carcinomas, all of which are considered stage IV, is around 7 percent (based on patients diagnosed between 1985 and 1991).

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