I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in Nov., 1999. Surgery and radioactive iodine followed. In Dec., 2006, I found a lump in my neck that turned cancerous. Shortly thereafter, it was found to have metastasized throughout my body and to be untreatable and inoperable. I started a clinical trial with Sutent (sunitinib) since Apr., 2007.
In Nov., 2013, the tumors began growing again and I was removed from the Sutent Clinical Trial. I started a clinical trial taking of CEDIRANIB on 04/09/14.
Doctors categorize thyroid cancer into stages, based on tumor size and location, as well as how far cancer cells have spread. For papillary and follicular thyroid cancers, age is also considered. Knowing this information helps them choose appropriate treatments and evaluate how likely a cure is.
Thyroid cancer stages differ slightly, depending on the type.
Stages of Papillary and Follicular Thyroid Cancer
There are only two stages of these cancers for people under age 45 but four stages for those 45 and older.
Stage I: For patients under 45 years old, either:
Cancer is present only in the thyroid, or
Cancer has spread to tissues and lymph nodes near the thyroid
For patients 45 and older, a stage I tumor is no bigger than two centimeters and there is no cancer outside the thyroid.
Stage II: In patients under 45 years old, cancer cells are present in tissues far from the thyroid, like the lungs.
In patients 45 and older, a stage II tumor is between 2 and 4 centimeters. Cancer cells still have not spread out of the thyroid.
Stage III: One of the following is true:
The tumor is bigger than 4 centimeters but has not spread out of the thyroid, or
The tumor can be any size and cancer is present the lymph nodes or in tissues near the thyroid or both
Stage IV: Stage IV tumors are divided into subcategories:
Stage IVA cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the neck or near the lungs, or it has spread to tissues like the esophagus, larynx, or the nerve to the larynx
Stage IVB Cancer may have spread to the lymph nodes and has spread to tissues near the spine or to blood vessels around the heart or lungs
Stage IVC cancer has spread farther, to organs like the lungs
Stages of Medullary Thyroid Cancer
Stage 0: At this stage, there is no visible tumor. The disease shows up on a special screening test.
Stage I: The tumor is no bigger than 2 centimeters and is confined to the thyroid
Stage II: Either:
The tumor is bigger than 2 centimeters but has not spread outside the thyroid, or
The cancer has spread right outside the thyroid, but has not reached the lymph nodes
Stage III: At this stage, tumor size doesn’t matter. Cancer cells are growing in nearby lymph nodes and possibly in other nearby tissues.
Stage IV: Stage IV medullary thyroid cancer is also divided into three substages.
Stage IVA: Either:
The tumor has spread to tissues like the esophagus or larynx, and possibly nearby lymph nodes, or
Cancer has spread just outside the thyroid and to lymph nodes in the neck or near the lungs
Stage IVB: Cancer can be present in the lymph nodes and the cancer has spread to tissues near the spine or to blood vessels around the heart or lungs
Stage IVC: Cancer has spread to distant organs
Stages of Anaplastic Thyroid Cancer
Anaplastic cancer is always Stage IV and is divided into three substages
Stage IVA cancer is in the thyroid and might also be in the lymph nodes
Stage IVB cancer is found in tissues right outside the thyroid and possibly also the lymph nodes