This means that sufferers are usually able to leave this difficult time behind and start living a normal life again after therapy, although most patients will still need lifelong monitoring. With thyroid cancer, the most important prognostic factor is the type of thyroid cancer you have. Papillary thyroid cancers have the best outcome - more than 90% people with this type of cancer are alive 20 years or more after they were diagnosed. The outcome for follicular thyroid cancer is good, with more than 70% people alive 20 years after they were diagnosed.
Medullary thyroid cancer also generally has quite a good outcome. The figures are only slightly lower than they are for follicular or papillary thyroid cancer. Unfortunately, the outlook can be very poor for undifferentiated or anaplastic thyroid cancer.
Other important factors that affect prognosis are your age, how developed your cancer is at time of diagnosis and whether cancer has spread to other parts of the body. People under 45 years of age tend to have a better outcome, so this is a good prognostic factor.
The long term prognosis for medullary thyroid cancer depends on your age at diagnosis and how advanced the cancer is at diagnosis;
- If the cancer is contained within the thyroid gland, 10 year survival is around 90%
- If the cancer has spread to close lymph nodes or tissue surrounding the neck, 10 year survival is around 70%
- If the cancer is advanced, 10 year survival is around 20%