Thyroid Cancer

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Thyroid cancer survival rates, by type and stage

Survival rates tell you what portion of people with the same type and stage of cancer are still alive a certain amount of time ( usually 5 years) after their cancer is diagnosed. . These numbers can’t tell you how long you will live, but they may help give you a better understanding about how likely it is that your treatment will be successful. Some people will want to know the survival rates for their cancer type and stage, and some people won’t. If you don’t want to know, you don’t have to.

What is a 5-year survival rate?

Statistics on the outlook for a certain type and stage of cancer are often given as 5-year survival rates, but many people live longer – often much longer – than 5 years. The 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who live at least 5 years after being diagnosed with cancer. For example, a 5-year survival rate of 50% means that an estimated 50 out of 100 people who have that cancer are still alive 5 years after being diagnosed. Keep in mind, however, that many of these people live much longer than 5 years after diagnosis.

Relative survival rates are a more accurate way to estimate the effect of cancer on survival. These rates compare people with cancer to people in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific type and stage of cancer is 50%, it means that people who have that cancer are, on average, about 50% as likely as people who don’t have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.

But remember, survival rates are estimates – your outlook can vary based on a number of factors specific to you.

Survival rates don’t tell the whole story

Survival rates are often based on previous outcomes of large numbers of people who had the disease, but they can’t predict what will happen in any particular person’s case. 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 were published in 2010 in the 7th edition of the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. They are based on the stage of the cancer when the person is first diagnosed.

Papillary thyroid cancer*

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

    I

    near 100%

    II

    near 100%

    III

    93%

    IV

    51%

*Based on patients diagnosed 1998 to 1999

Follicular thyroid cancer*

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

    I

    near 100%

    II

    near 100%

    III

    71%

    IV

    50%

*Based on patients diagnosed 1998 to 1999

Medullary thyroid cancer**

    Stage

    5-Year Relative Survival Rate

    I

    near 100%

    II

    98%

    III

    81%

    IV

    28%

**Based on patients diagnosed between 1985 and 1991

Anaplastic thyroid cancer

The 5-year relative survival rate for anaplastic (undifferentiated) carcinomas, all of which are considered stage IV, is around 7% (based on patients diagnosed between 1985 and 1991).


Last Medical Review: 03/31/2016
Last Revised: 04/15/2016