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What Is a Thyroid Cancer Prognosis?

A thyroid cancer prognosis is a medical opinion as to the likely course and outcome of the disease. Factors that can affect a prognosis for a person with thyroid cancer include such things as the type and location of the cancer, the stage of the disease, its grade; and the patient’s age and general health.
People facing thyroid cancer are naturally concerned about what the future holds. Understanding thyroid cancer and what to expect can help patients and their loved ones:
– Plan thyroid cancer treatment.
– Think about lifestyle changes.
– Make decisions about their quality of life and finances.

A prognosis is a medical opinion as to the likely course and outcome of a disease. In other words, the prognosis is the chance that a patient will recover or have a recurrence (return of the cancer). There are many factors that can affect a person’s prognosis, which include:
– The type and location of the cancer.
– The stage of the disease (the extent to which the cancer has metastasized, or spread).
– Its grade (how abnormal the cancer cells look, and how quickly the cancer is likely to grow and spread).
– The person’s age, general health, and response to treatment.

Most thyroid cancers are very curable. In fact, the most common types of thyroid cancer, papillary and follicular, are the most curable. In younger patients, both papillary and follicular cancers have a more than 97% cure rate if treated appropriately. Both papillary and follicular cancers are typically treated with complete removal of the lobe of the thyroid that harbors the cancer, in addition to the removal of most or all of the other side.
The bottom line is that most thyroid cancers are papillary thyroid cancer, and this is one of the most curable cancers of all cancers that humans get. Treated correctly, the cure rate is extremely high.
Medullary cancer of the thyroid is significantly less common, but has a worse prognosis. Medullary cancers tend to spread to large numbers of lymph nodes very early on, and therefore require a much more aggressive operation than the more localized thyroid cancers, such as papillary and follicular. This cancer requires complete thyroid removal plus a dissection to remove the lymph nodes of the front and sides of the neck.
The least common type of thyroid cancer is anaplastic which has a very poor prognosis. Anaplastic thyroid cancer tends to be found after it has spread and is incurable in most cases.

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