Your Online Health Information Site


Prognosis For Thyroid Cancer

In general, the prognosis for thyroid cancer (meaning the long-term survival for this cancer) is usually much better in a thyroid cancer that is found at stage I or II. In contrast, stage III and IV have the worst outcome as often distant metastases are either there (stage IV) or are developing soon (stage III) in a high percentage. However, with thyroid cancer, as explained above, an important prognostic factor, above all, is the histology. In other words, to illustrate this, the 10-year survival rates are given here for four different histological types after early diagnosis and thyroid cancer treatment.

10-year survivals in four common thyroid cancers 

Cell types found by pathologist

10-year cancer survival (%)

Papillary thyroid cancer 85
Follicular thyroid cancer 65
Medullary thyroid cancer
Anaplastic thyroid cancer 0

*Note that in the past prior to calcitonin level screening this survival rate typically was 50%

The anaplastic thyroid cancer, even when found early and treated with chemotherapy, has an overall cancer survival rate of just over 2 years all in all.


1. Cancer: Principles&Practice of Oncology. 5th edition, volume 1. Edited by Vincent T. DeVita, Jr. et al. Lippincott-Raven Publ., Philadelphia,PA, 1997. Thyroid tumors.

2. Cancer: Principles &Practice of Oncology, 4th edition, by V.T. De Vita,Jr.,et. al J.B.  LippincottCo.,Philadelphia, 1993.Thyroid tumors.

3. CC Cheung et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001 May;86(5):2187-2190.

4. F Dede et al. Clin Nucl Med 2001 May;26(5):396-399.

5. S Hermann et al. Int J Cancer 2001 Jun 15;92(6):805-811.

6. I Sturm et al. J Clin Oncol 1999 May;17(5):1364-1374.

7. VL Greenberg et al. Thyroid 2001 Apr;11(4):315-325.

8. K Ohta et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2001May;86(5):2170-2177.

9. Conn’s Current Therapy 2004, 56th ed., Copyright © 2004 Elsevier

10. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc

Last modified: July 12, 2019

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.