Different Stages of Thyroid Cancer

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Aug 01, 2012

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Different Stages of Thyroid Cancer

The advancement of thyroid cancer is described by its stage. There are three major stages of thyroid cancer, namely 'T', 'N' and 'M', where 'T' stands for tumour, 'N' for lymph nodes and 'M' for metastasis.

Stages of Thyroid Cancer

The staging of thyroid cancer is done as per a technique developed by the American Joint Committee of Cancer. As the name suggests , thyroid cancer affects thyroid gland, located at the bottom of the neck. With the progression of cancer stage, gland’s ability to produce hormones gets disrupted. Staging for thyroid cancer helps to figure out treatment of the thyroid cancer.

1. Tumour Stage (T) – In this stage, a tumour can be detected, but it is limited to the thyroid gland. The tumour, which can range from less than 2 cm to more than 4 cm in size, may begin growing towards the spine and spread further.
2. Lymph Node Stage (N) – In the lymph node stage, cancer spreads from the tumour to the lymph nodes. The progression of cancer sees cancer cells spreading from cervical lymph nodes to the upper mediastinal lymph nodes.
3. Metastasis Stage (M) – In metastasis, the cancer cells spread from the lymph nodes to rest of the body, mainly the bones and the internal organs.

Thyroid Cancer Stages (Cancer type)

Thyroid cancer staging can also be done based on the cancer types, which include papillary, follicular, medullary and anaplastic. However, anaplastic cancer cannot be staged as it spreads very quickly.

Stages I and II – For papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, cancer cells are limited to the thyroid. The thyroid cancer can be treated with surgery in first two stages.

Stage III – The medullary thyroid cancer spread from the thyroid to the lymph nodes. For papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, cancer cells get spread a bit outside, affecting trachea.

Stage IV – The last stage sees thyroid cancer spreading to various parts of the body. In most cases, bones and the lungs are the venerable parts to get affected. Papillary thyroid cancer usually affects lymph nodes and doesn't move any further, whereas follicular cancer can affect any part of the body.

The best way to administer the advancement of thyroid cancer is by complying with its treatment and following a requisite diet plan. Depending on the type of thyroid cancer as well as age, oncologist will identify stage of thyroid cancer and advise the best possible treatment for it.


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