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Number stages for medullary thyroid cancer

Find out about the number stages of medullary thyroid cancer.

There are 4 stages.

There is also a staging system called TNM. 

T describes the size of the tumour.

N describes whether there are any cancer cells in the lymph nodes.

M describes whether the cancer has spread to a different part of the body.

Stage 1

Stage 1 means that the tumour is 2 cm or less across and hasn't grown outside the thyroid. It has not spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body. In TNM staging, this is the same as T1, N0, M0.

Stage 2

Stage 2 means the tumour is one of the following:

  • between 2 cm and smaller than 4cm across and hasn't grown outside the thyroid at all (TNM staging T2, N0, M0)
  • 4 cm or larger, or has grown slightly outside the thyroid, but hasn't spread to nearby lymph nodes or other parts of the body (TNM staging T3, N0, M0)

Stage 3

Stage 3 means that the tumour is 4cm across or larger and is within the thyroid gland or has started to grow slightly outside the thyroid. It has spread to lymph nodes close to the thyroid in the neck but not to other parts of the body (TNM staging T1-T3, N1a, M0).

Stage 4

Stage 4 is divided into 3 groups from A to C.

Stage 4A

Stage 4A means the tumour is one of the following:

  • has grown beyond the thyroid gland and into nearby tissues of the neck. It may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes but hasn't spread to other parts of the body (TNM staging T4a, N0 or N1a, M0) 
  • any size and may have grown into nearby tissues in the neck. It has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck or behind the throat (retropharyngeal nodes), but not to other parts of the body (TNM staging T1 to T4a, N1b, M0)

Stage 4B

Stage 4B means the tumour has grown into the area surrounding the bones of the spine or into nearby large blood vessels. It may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes, but it hasn't spread to other parts of the body (TNM staging T4b, Any N, M0).

Stage 4C

Stage 4C means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Treatment

The stage of your cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need. Treatment also depends on:

  • your type of cancer (the type of cells the cancer started in)
  • where the cancer is 
  • other health conditions that you have
Last reviewed: 
16 May 2018
  • AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (8th Edition)
    S Edge (and others)
    Springer, 2017

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