Stages of thyroid cancer

After you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer, you will have tests to determine the type of cancer cells you have and whether cancer has spread (metastasized) to other parts of your body.

Stages of thyroid cancer 1
Cell type Stage Characteristics
Papillary and follicular

I

Younger than 45: Cancer is any size, but has not spread (metastasized) to other parts of the body.

45 years and older: Cancer is 2 cm (0.8 in.) or smaller and has not spread to other parts of the body.

II

Younger than 45: Cancer has spread beyond the thyroid gland.

45 years and older: Cancer is found only in the thyroid gland. It is larger than 2 cm (0.4 in.) but not larger than 4 cm (1.6 in.).

III

45 and older: Cancer is larger than 4 cm (1.6 in) or is any size and has spread to other tissues just outside the thyroid, but not to the lymph nodes. Or the cancer may be any size and may have spread to the tissues just outside the thyroid and to the nearby lymph nodes.

IVA

IVB

IVC

Cancer is any size and has spread to the area outside the thyroid with or without going into the lymph nodes. Or cancer is any size and has spread to the tissues outside the thyroid and to the lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck and between the lungs.

Cancer has spread to the area in front of the spinal column or the area between the lungs.

Cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs and bones.

Medullary 0 Cancer is found by a special screening test. At this stage, there are no tumors yet.
 

I

Cancer is 2 cm (0.4 in.) or smaller and is only in the thyroid.

II

Cancer is larger than 2 cm (0.4 in.) but not larger than 4 cm (1.6 in.) and is only in the thyroid.

III

Cancer is larger than 4 cm (1.6 in) or has spread to tissues just outside the thyroid but not the lymph nodes. Or cancer is any size and has spread to the lymph nodes near the thyroid.

IVA

IVB

IVC

Cancer can be removed by surgery. The cancer has spread to the area around the thyroid and the lymph nodes. Or the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck and between the lungs.

Cancer cannot be removed by surgery. The cancer has spread to the tissues in front of the spinal column or to the area between the lungs. And the cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes.

Cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs and bones.

Anaplastic

IV

IVA

IVB

IVC

All anaplastic cancer is considered to be stage IV. It grows and spreads much faster than the other cell types. The cancer may have already spread outside the thyroid by the time it is diagnosed.

Cancer can be removed by surgery. Cancer is found in the thyroid and may have spread to the lymph nodes.

Cancer cannot be removed by surgery. The cancer has spread outside the thyroid and sometimes into the lymph nodes.

Cancer has spread to other areas of the body, such as the lungs and bones.

Citations

  1. American Joint Committee on Cancer (2002). Thyroid. In AJCC Cancer Staging Manual, 6th ed., pp. 77–87. New York: Springer-Verlag.

Last Updated: August 13, 2009

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