Stages of Thyroid Cancer
When your care team determines your diagnosis, they also assess how advanced the cancer is. This is called its stage. Doctors use a system called TNM staging to describe how much thyroid cancer has grown or spread within the body.
In TNM staging, each letter describes an aspect of the cancer:
- Tumor size, which tells your doctor how large the tumor has grown and how likely it is to have spread
- Nodes, indicates whether cancer is present in nearby lymph nodes and, if so, how many
- Metastasis, meaning whether the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes
Doctors also determine the stage of thyroid cancer based on the specific type of cancer and your age.
Staging helps you and your doctor make decisions about your treatment plan. This information is also helpful in determining your prognosis (probable outcome based on the experience of others).