Survival statistics for thyroid cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Statistics and outlook for thyroid cancer

Outlook means the likely outcome of your disease and treatment. Your doctor may call this your prognosis. With thyroid cancer, the likely outcome depends on the type of thyroid cancer, your age and how advanced the cancer is when it is diagnosed (the stage of your cancer).

Below, we have quite detailed information about the likely outcome of different stages of thyroid cancer. The statistics we use are taken from a variety of sources, including the opinions and experience of the experts who check every section of Cancer Research UK's patient information. They are intended as a general guide only. For a more complete picture in your case, you need to speak to your own specialist.

We include statistics because people ask for them, but not everyone wishes to read this type of information. Remember you can skip this page if you don't want to read it, you can always come back to it.

How reliable are cancer statistics?

No statistics can tell you what will happen to you. Your cancer is unique. The same type of cancer can grow at different rates in different people. The statistics cannot tell you about the different treatments people may have had, or how that treatment may have affected their prognosis. There are many individual factors that will affect your treatment and your outlook.
 

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Thyroid cancer survival

Find out about thyroid cancer survival.

People ask us for this information but not everyone with cancer wants to read it. If you are not sure whether you want to know at the moment, you can always come back to it later.

These are general statistics based on large groups of patients. They can’t tell you what will happen in your individual case.

No one can tell you exactly how long you’ll live with thyroid cancer. It depends on your individual situation and treatment. No two patients are exactly alike and response to treatment also varies from one person to another.

Your doctor can give you more information about your own outlook (prognosis). Or you can talk to the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040, from 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.

 

Survival for different types of thyroid cancer

There are no UK wide statistics available for thyroid cancer survival.

The statistics below are from a large European study. They are based on people treated between 1990 and 1994. Treatments improve over time, so people having treatment now may have a better outlook.

With thyroid cancer, the most important prognostic factor is the type of thyroid cancer you have.

For papillary thyroid cancers

  • around 90 out of 100 men (around 90%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • around 95 out of 100 women (around 95%) survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed

For follicular thyroid cancer

  • more than 80 out of 100 men (80%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • almost all women will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed

For medullary thyroid cancer

  • more than 60 out of 100 men (more than 60%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • around 80 out of 100 women (around 80%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosed

For anaplastic thyroid cancer

  • almost 5 out of 100 men (almost 5%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed
  • 10 out of 100 women (10%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
 

Survival by stage for different types of thyroid cancer

There are no UK wide statistics for outcome by stage for thyroid cancer.

The following statistics are from America, for patients treated in the 1980s and 1990s. Survival depends on the type of thyroid cancer.

Papillary thyroid cancer

Stage 1 and 2
Everyone (100%) is expected to survive their cancer for 5 years or more after their diagnosis

Stage 3
Almost 95 out of 100 people (almost 95%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after their diagnosis

Stage 4
Around 50 out of 100 people (around 50%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after their diagnosis

Follicular thyroid cancer

Stage 1 and 2
Around all people (around 100%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after their diagnosis

Stage 3
Around 70 out of 100 people (around 70%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after their diagnosis

Stage 4
50 out of 100 people (50%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after their diagnosis

Medullary thyroid cancer

Stage 1 and 2
Almost all people (almost 100%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis

Stage 3
Around 80 out of 100 people (around 80%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis

Stage 4
More than 25 out of 100 people (more than 25%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis

Anaplastic thyroid cancer

Anaplastic thyroid cancer does not have a very good outlook. Most patients with this type of thyroid cancer live between 2 to 6 months.  

The prognosis for individual people with anaplastic thyroid cancer depends on the size of the tumour and how much can be removed with surgery. The best outlook is if the tumour is less than 5 cm in size and can be completely removed.

 

Survival for all types and stages of thyroid cancer

No UK-wide survival statistics are available for all types and stages of thyroid cancer.

The following statistics are from the National Cancer Intelligence Network. They are for people diagnosed in England between 2000 and 2002.

For all people diagnosed with thyroid cancer in England

  • almost 90 out of 100 (almost 90%) will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after diagnosis
 

What affects survival

Your outcome depends on the stage of the thyroid cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread.

The type and grade of thyroid cancer also affects your likely survival. Grade means how abnormal the cells look under the microscope.

Your likely survival is also affected by your age. Survival is better in younger men and women.

 

About these statistics

The term 5 year survival doesn't mean you will only live for 5 years. It relates to the number of people who live 5 years or more after their diagnosis of cancer. Many people live much longer than 5 years.

The survival statistics on this page are for relative survival. Relative survival takes into account that some people will die of causes other than cancer. This gives a more accurate picture of cancer survival.

 

Clinical trials

Taking part in clinical trials can help to improve treatments for thyroid cancer. There is more about understanding clinical trials in our trials and research section. You can search for trials for thyroid cancer on our clinical trials database

 

More statistics 

Read more about understanding statistics in cancer research and incidence, mortality and survival statistics.

For more in-depth information about survival and other statistics for thyroid cancer, go to our Cancer Statistics section.

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Updated: 6 July 2016