Are There Stages of Thyroid Cancer? Chart

Medically Reviewed on 4/30/2021

Stages of thyroid cancer

Thyroid problem
The staging system most often used for thyroid cancer is the TNM system of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC).

Like other cancer, thyroid cancer has stages. Stages used to describe thyroid cancer are based on the type of thyroid cancer and the patient’s age. The different types of thyroid cancer include

  • Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer in patients younger than 55 years of age
  • Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer in patients 55 years of age and older
  • Medullary thyroid cancer in patients of all ages
  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer in patients of all ages

The staging system most often used for thyroid cancer is the TNM system of the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC). In these staging systems, three key parameters are used

  • T (tumor): It refers to the size of the original tumor.
  • N (node): It describes whether cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
  • M (metastasis): It refers to the spreading of cancer to other parts of the body, such as bone, lungs, liver, kidney, and other organs.

A number (0-4) or the letter X is allocated to each factor. A higher number means the cancer is more advanced. For instance, a T1 score refers to a smaller tumor than a T2 score. The letter X indicates the information that could not be assessed.

Table. Each stage of thyroid cancer, grouped by types

Stages Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer in patients younger than 55 years of age Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer in patients 55 years of age and older Medullary thyroid cancer in patients of all ages Anaplastic thyroid cancer in patients of all ages
I The tumor may be of any size. It may or may not spread to the surrounding tissues but has not spread to other body parts. The tumor size of 2 centimeters is found only in the thyroid. The tumor size of 2 centimeters is found only in the thyroid. -
II The tumor may be of any size and has spread to the lungs or bones. Cancer is found in the thyroid and is between 2 centimeters and 4 centimeters in size. The tumor may be larger than 2 centimeters or of any size. It has not spread to the lymph nodes. -
III - The tumor may be of any size and has spread to the lungs or bones. The tumor may be larger than 2 centimeters or of any size. It has not spread to the lymph nodes. -
IV In stage IV of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, cancer has spread beyond the thyroid to a distant site. The physician assigns letters A, B, and C to show the severity of the disease. In stage IV of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, cancer has spread beyond the thyroid to a distant site. The physician assigns letters A, B, and C to show the severity of the disease. Cancer has spread to a distant part of the body. This is the fastest-growing type of thyroid cancer. Hence, there are no earlier stages.
IVA The tumor has spread beyond the thyroid to the skin, or it is affecting the larynx, esophagus, or trachea. The tumor has spread beyond the thyroid to the skin, or it is affecting the larynx, esophagus, or trachea. Cancer may have spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
IVB The tumor has grown toward the spine or into the nearby large blood vessels, such as the carotid arteries. The tumor has grown toward the spine or into the nearby large blood vessels, such as the carotid arteries. - Cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.
IVC The tumor has spread beyond the thyroid and to distant sites, such as lungs, bones, and lymph nodes. The tumor has spread beyond the thyroid and to distant sites, such as lungs, bones, and lymph nodes.

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Medically Reviewed on 4/30/2021
References
WebMD. What Are the Stages of Thyroid Cancer? https://www.webmd.com/cancer/what-are-the-stages-of-thyroid-cancer

American Cancer Society. Thyroid Cancer Stages. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/thyroid-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/staging.html