Thyroid Cancer Prognosis

Thyroid cancer is the cancer in the thyroid gland, an endocrine organ which produces hormones that control the speed of metabolism. Read more about thyroid cancer here.

Picture of a patient in pain from thyroid cancer

What is prognosis of thyroid cancer?

Prognosis is a medical term for predicting the expected development of a disease and it includes whether the signs and symptoms will improve, worsen or remain stable over time and the time period of the same. It also covers expectations of quality of life such as the ability to carry out daily chores, the potential for complications and associated health issues, and also the likelihood of survival.

Factors affecting prognosis of thyroid cancer:

The following are some of the important factors to consider to determine the patient’s prognosis with thyroid cancer:

Type of thyroid cancer:

There are five main types of thyroid cancer: papillary thyroid cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, medullary thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer and hurthle cell cancer in the decreasing order of frequency of occurrence with the first two types accounting to 85% and 10% of the cases respectively. Papillary and follicular cancer have a good prognosis and high survival rates in the early stages when the cancer has not metastasized. Medullary thyroid cancer has a moderate prognosis and is curable in the early stages. The prognosis of anaplastic cancer is poor prognosis and it has a low survival rate. Know more about types of thyroid cancer here.


The stage of thyroid cancer is an important parameter because the extent to which the cancer has spread and the body organs affected determines the course of action and the chances of recovery. Earlier stages have better prognosis than the advanced ones and the extent to which the cancer has spread in the body is also an important factor. The prognosis of thyroid cancer is if the cancer is confined to the thyroid gland or has spread to the nearby lymph nodes only. Read more about stages of thyroid cancer here.


The age of the patient is an important factor to decide the treatment as the doctors have to consider the side effects associated with the treatment and how it affects the patient and hence the prognosis. For thyroid cancer, it is an especially important factor as the age of the patient is considered in staging the cancer too. Patients less than 40 years of age have a better prognosis than patients older than 40 years.

Overall health:

The overall health, medical history and the patient’s response to treatment helps decide the prognosis and their susceptibility to complications and hence the patient’s outlook.

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