The number staging for papillary and follicular thyroid cancer are the same.
Papillary and follicular thyroid cancer are classified as differentiated thyroid cancers. There are 2 stages for people under 55 years old and 4 stages for people over 55 years old.
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.
If you are under 55 years of age
Stage 1 means you have thyroid cancer which may or may not have spread to nearby lymph nodes. The tumour can be any size but hasn't spread to distant areas of the body. In TNM staging, this is the same as any T, any N, M0.
Stage 2 means your cancer has spread to other parts of the body (any T, any N, M1).
If you are over 55 years of age
Stage 1 means your cancer is only inside the thyroid and is up to 4cm across (TMN staging T1 or T2, N0, M0).
Stage 2 means your cancer is one of the following:
- 4cm across and has spread to the nearby lymph nodes (T1 or T2, N1, M0)
- any size and might have spread to the nearby lymph nodes (T3, any N, M0)
Stage 3 means your cancer has grown outside the covering of the thyroid gland into nearby soft tissue, such as the voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), food pipe (oesophagus) or the voice box nerve (recurrent laryngeal nerve) and might have spread, to the nearby lymph nodes (T4a, any N, M0).
Stage 4 is divided into 2 groups A and B.
Stage 4A means your cancer has grown outside the thyroid gland into the area surrounding the bones of the spine, or one of the main blood vessels in the neck area and has spread, or not spread, to the nearby lymph nodes (T4b, any N, M0).
Stage 4B means your cancer is any size, has spread, or has not spread to the lymph nodes and has spread to another part of the body (any T, any N, M1).
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