When Does Thyroid Cancer Spread?

Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer that originates from the cells of the thyroid gland. It can spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and bone, and grow there. This process is known as metastasis, and when it occurs, it is referred to as stage 4 thyroid cancer. At this advanced stage, many symptoms may appear.

In fact, they can often be detected before the cancer has metastasized. The average interval between the first and second metastases is 14.7 months, and 76% of patients progress from single organ to multiorgan metastases at 5 years of age. The 5-year survival rate for those with single organ metastases is 77.6%, while it is only 15.3% for those with multiorgan metastases. The type of cancer is based on the type of cells from which it originated.

Distant metastasis may be the initial presentation of the disease or may occur after initial cancer treatment. The incidence of distant metastases after total thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer ranges from 7 to 23%, while for those who initially present with distant metastases, it is approximately 1–9%. Cancer cells that spread can be found when you are first diagnosed or can be found after treatment. Most thyroid cancers are unlikely to return, including the most common types of thyroid cancer, papillary thyroid cancer and follicular thyroid cancer.

However, up to 30% of patients with medullary thyroid cancer are associated with genetic syndromes, which can also increase the risk of developing other tumors. The stage provides a common way to describe cancer, so doctors can work together to plan the best treatments. Therefore, people with metastatic follicular thyroid cancer (FTC) should be aggressively treated with thyroidectomy, radioactive iodine ablation, and metastasis resection whenever possible. Depending on the cancer, the doctor may remove only part of the thyroid, a procedure known as a thyroidectomy. The radiation then kills all thyroid cells, even those that are cancerous, with little effect on the rest of the body. You can help reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy choices such as eating well, staying active, and not smoking. Because we can detect small thyroid cancers with new technology, the incidence rate of thyroid cancer has increased.

Comprehensive information for people with cancer, families and caregivers is available from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the voice of the world's cancer professionals. Doctors aren't sure what causes the gene changes that cause most thyroid cancers, so there's no way to prevent it in people who have an average risk of developing the disease. Having cancer and dealing with treatment can be difficult but it can also be a time to see your life in new ways. Adults and children with an inherited gene that increases the risk of medullary thyroid cancer may consider having thyroid surgery to prevent cancer (prophylactic thyroidectomy).

Greta Rulnick
Greta Rulnick

Friendly coffee advocate. Avid beer geek. Total tv aficionado. Music buff. Lifelong zombie guru.