Where Does Thyroid Cancer Spread To?

Most patients with thyroid cancer are diagnosed with the cancer contained in the thyroid. However, around 30% of cases have metastatic cancer, which has spread to the lymph nodes in the neck. In rare cases, the cancer can spread outside the neck to other organs, such as the lungs and bones. This is known as metastatic thyroid cancer, or stage 4 thyroid cancer.

Symptoms of this advanced stage of thyroid cancer may include fatigue, weight loss, and difficulty breathing. The type of cancer is based on the type of cells from which it originated. Metastatic tumor is the same type of cancer as primary tumor. For example, if thyroid cancer spreads to the lungs, lung cancer cells are actually thyroid cancer cells.

The disease is metastatic thyroid cancer, not lung cancer. Localized medullary thyroid cancer is found only in the thyroid and may have spread to nearby neck muscles. Symptoms usually appear at an earlier stage and can often be detected before thyroid cancer has metastasized. Moffitt Cancer Center offers comprehensive diagnostic, treatment and supportive care services for people with thyroid cancer. To diagnose metastatic thyroid cancer, doctors will perform a series of tests to determine the extent of the disease. This may include a biopsy or imaging tests such as an ultrasound or CT scan. When describing the “T” in thyroid cancer, doctors can subdivide the general categories by adding the letter “s” to indicate a solitary (single) tumor or “m” to indicate multifocal (rather than tumors).

TCSS was defined as a measure of net survival that represents cancer survival in the absence of other causes of death based on causes of death listed in medical records. A higher number, such as stage 4, means more serious cancer that has spread outside the thyroid gland. If the cancer returns, another round of tests will be performed to determine the extent of the recurrence. A certain change in the RET gene that is passed from parent to child (hereditary) can cause medullary thyroid cancer. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or preventing them from multiplying. This variability in clinical and survival outcomes suggests significant heterogeneity in distant metastatic thyroid disease, which could influence its management paradigm and follow-up studies. The discovery of biomarkers that can predict and prevent specific organ colonization in patients with thyroid cancer can help determine the appropriate strategy for follow-up and will open new avenues to personalized medicine.

Greta Rulnick
Greta Rulnick

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