Thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer, with a five-year survival rate of nearly 98 percent according to the National Cancer Institute. However, it is still estimated that around 2,000 people die each year from the disease. While most types of thyroid cancer grow slowly, some can be very aggressive. The incidence of thyroid cancer is on the rise, increasing by about 5 percent annually.
Women are more likely than men to receive a diagnosis of small papillary thyroid cancer during their lifetime, but diagnoses of aggressive and often fatal types of thyroid cancer are nearly equal in men and women. When a patient is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, doctors may decide to do a biopsy to remove a small sample of thyroid tissue. The health care provider may also recommend regular blood tests or thyroid scans to check for signs that the cancer has returned. In some cases, the cancer may have spread beyond the thyroid and outside the neck.
Bone is the second most common metastatic site in thyroid carcinoma, involving the vertebrae, sternum, ribs, and skull. If this is the case, palliative surgery may be recommended to improve quality of life and prognosis. Histological diagnoses made at the time of initial treatment can be used to classify fatal thyroid carcinomas into two categories: anaplastic carcinomas and differentiated carcinomas (which include papillary carcinomas and follicular carcinomas). Overall, while thyroid cancer is usually not fatal, it is important to be aware of the risks associated with it and to seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms.
Regular check-ups with your doctor can help ensure that any potential issues are caught early and treated appropriately.