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Survival Rates for Thyroid Cancer

Some people with cancer may want to know the survival rates for their type of cancer. Others may not find the numbers helpful, or may even not want to know them. Whether or not you want to read about survival rates is up to you. The 5-year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is found. 

Of course, many people live much longer than 5 years. Five-year relative survival rates compare the number of people who are still alive 5 years after their cancer was found to the survival of others the same age who don't have cancer. This is a better way to see the impact that cancer can have on survival. 

The numbers below come from the AJCC Cancer Staging Manual (7th ed).

Papillary thyroid cancer*

Stage

5-Year Relative Survival Rate

I

near 100%

II

near 100%

III

93%

IV

51%

*Based on patients diagnosed 1998 to 1999

Follicular thyroid cancer*

Stage

5-Year Relative Survival Rate

I

near 100%

II

near 100%

III

71%

IV

50%

*Based on patients diagnosed 1998 to 1999  

Medullary thyroid cancer**

Stage

5-Year Relative Survival Rate

I

near 100%

II

98%

III

81%

IV

28%

**Based on patients diagnosed between 1985 and 1991

Anaplastic

The 5-year relative survival rate for anaplastic (undifferentiated) carcinomas, all of which are considered stage IV, is around 7% (based on patients diagnosed between 1985 and 1991).

While numbers provide an overall picture, keep in mind that every person is unique and that statistics can't predict exactly what will happen in your case. Talk with your cancer care team if you have questions about your own chances of a cure, or how long you might survive your cancer. They know your case best.


Last Medical Review:
08/05/2011
Last Revised: 08/05/2011