Thyroid cancer is a rare form of cancer that affects the thyroid gland, a gland located at the base of the neck, producing hormones. The condition is common in people in their 30s and over 60 years and is nearly 2-3 times more predominant in women than in men. Like most types of cancer, thyroid cancer is treatable, although it may come back after treatment.
Typically, thyroid cancer is the most common form of rare endocrine tumor diagnosed at a younger age, making it the most increasing type of cancer in the United States due to increased detection. Understanding the survival rate provides insights into the percentage of people living with thyroid cancer, focusing on the type and stage of thyroid cancer.
Understanding Thyroid Cancer and Survival Rate
Thyroid cancer occurs within thyroid cells found in the thyroid, which produces hormones that regulate various body functions, including heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and weight. An individual with thyroid cancer might not show symptoms immediately, but persistent pain and swelling often result as the tumor grows. Besides, some types of thyroid cancer grow slowly while others can be aggressive, although most of them are treatable.
Thyroid cancer occurs about 1% of all new cancer diagnoses in the United States alone annually, with over 2,200 deaths reported. In addition, there has been an upsurge in thyroid cancer rates over the years which is primarily associated with the advancement of technology allowing for the detection of small cancerous cells in the thyroid that could not be found in the past.
Common Symptoms of Thyroid Cancer
Although it remains unclear what causes thyroid cancer, the condition can result from mutations of cells within the thyroid gland. These genetic changes stimulate the rapid growth of cells, leading to the accumulation of abnormal cells that form a tumor. A person with a cancerous thyroid tumor can have multiple symptoms, including:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Changes of voice, including increasing hoarseness
- A lump in the neck
- Pain in the throat and neck
- Swollen lymph node in your neck
So, be sure to check what happens when cancer spreads to the lymph nodes and when other symptoms start to show. While anyone diagnosed with thyroid cancer can live a normal life, age can affect the survival rate. For example, a patient below 45 years has an excellent prognosis than an individual over 60. Therefore, age plays a critical role in determining the survival rate of patients with thyroid cancer, where the younger population has a higher survival rate than the elderly or people over 60 years.
Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer
Diagnosis of thyroid cancer involves various tests and procedures to identify the type of thyroid cancer, its location, and an ideal treatment technique. If you suspect you have thyroid cancer or have signs of the illness, your doctor that specializes in clinical oncology may suggest one or a combination of the following diagnostic tests and procedures.
- Physical exam: It involves examining the neck for any physical changes in the thyroid, mainly thyroid nodules.
- Blood tests: The doctor who specializes in clinical oncology can use blood tests to determine whether the thyroid gland functions properly.
- Ultrasound imaging: This involves high-frequency sound waves that generate a picture of the body. It includes creating an image of the thyroid gland using an ultrasound transducer that shows the appearance of the gland and if the thyroid nodule is noncancerous or cancerous.
- Biopsy: A doctor uses a fine-needle aspiration biopsy to remove a tissue sample from the thyroid nodule. The tissue is analyzed to determine if the gland comprises cancer cells.
Once the doctor diagnoses the patient to establish if the tumor is cancerous, the type and identifies potentially effective cancer treatment options, they can estimate the prognosis.
Thyroid Cancer Survival Rate by Age
Generally, people diagnosed with cancer can undergo various treatments, such as chemotherapy, radioactive iodine therapy, and radiation therapy, and live a normal life. A doctor can administer the most effective treatment and cure the condition entirely with a proper diagnosis. However, cancerous cells may reoccur after several years of therapy and impact an individual’s life. Others have also used alternative therapies and medicine to support their treatment. However, it is important to ask experts and researching about it before using it like understanding the effects of black seed oil and thyroid cancer.
Thyroid cancer incidence is highly related to age, with people between 65-69 years having the highest incidence rates. This means that the younger population has a lower incidence rate and a higher survival rate than the middle-aged and the older population. In females, age-specific incidence rates increase sharply between ages 10-14 and ages 45-49 and decline at age 65-69.
In males, incidence rates rise gradually around ages 10-14 and drop in the oldest age, often 65-69. The highest rates are between ages 45-49 for females and 70-74 for males. Thyroid cancer incidence rates for females are higher than for males across all age groups. Females at 30-34 years with thyroid cancer have the highest age-specific incidence rate, which is 5.2 times that of males.
In the United States, the survival rate for patients with thyroid cancer is 98%, although it depends on several factors, including the specific type of thyroid cancer and the thyroid cancer stages. If the tumor is located in the thyroid, it is referred to as localized thyroid cancer, and the survival rate is nearly 100% for patients with localized papillary, medullary, and follicular thyroid cancers. However, localized anaplastic thyroid cancer has a 34% 5-year survival rate.
Suppose the thyroid cancer has spread to other tissues, organs, or nearbylymph nodes, it is referred to as regional thyroid cancer. The 5-year survival rate for a patient with regional papillary thyroid cancer is 99%, while that of regional follicular cancer is 98%, and for regional medullary cancer it is 90%. In contrast, regional anaplastic thyroid cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 4%.
In addition, medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancer make up about 3% of all thyroid cancer cases and are more likely to spread to nearby cells and organs. The 5-year survival rate for metastatic papillary thyroid cancer is 75%, while metastatic papillary thyroid cancer is 63%. In contrast, metastatic medullary thyroid cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 40%, and metastatic anaplastic thyroid cancer has a rate of 4%.
How Age Affects the Risk of Thyroid Cancer Recurrence
Several factors determine if your thyroid cancer may return or relapse after treatment, with age being an independent risk factor. Typically, the older population is at a greater risk of experiencing a reoccurrence of thyroid cancer after an initial diagnosis. However, it is not a must that thyroid cancer will return. Other factors that increase the chances of thyroid cancer reoccurrence after diagnosis and treatment include stage, obesity, and genetics.
Can You Treat Cancer and Live A Normal Life?
Most thyroid cancers are treatable, especially when cancerous cells remain within the thyroid gland and has not metastasized to nearby lymph nodes or organs. Your doctor may suggest other therapy options if cancer has spread to other body parts. However, if your thyroid cancer cannot be cured, the treatment may involve removing or destroying cancerous cells and preventing them from growing, spreading, or returning.
Sometimes, thyroid cancer treatment can be administered to relieve associated symptoms of the illness, such as pain and swallowing and breathing issues. Your doctor can diagnose your condition to determine if it is curable or recommend further examination to determine your prognosis or survival rate.
Does Thyroid Cancer Shorten Your Life?
Thyroid cancer patients who undergo early diagnosis and treatment can live disease-free without reoccurrence of cancerous cells throughout their lives. However, if the condition returns over time following thyroid cancer treatment, life expectancy varies reducing the average to 60%. In some cases, life expectancy can be extended if you keep follow-up care of your doctor. Since papillary thyroid cancer confined to the gland is unlikely to cause death, patients have a higher survival rate than other thyroid cancer forms.
While most types of thyroid cancers are treatable, papillary and follicular cancers have a higher cure rate of 98% if detected and treated early. In contrast, medullary thyroid cancer has a deprived prognosis and can spread to the lymph nodes if not diagnosed and managed earlier. Anaplastic thyroid cancer is the least type of thyroid cancer with the worst prognosis unless it is detected and treated earlier through a thyroidectomy. Unfortunately, anaplastic thyroid cancer is noticed after it has spread to other parts of the body.
While several factors can affect thyroid cancer survival rate, age can significantly reduce the survival rate for patients with thyroid cancer, especially those over 60 years. Teens with thyroid cancer have a higher survival rate and a lower incidence rate than the middle-aged and the older population. In addition, females in their early 30s have a higher incidence rate compared to males, who have a higher incidence rate in the early 40s.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we can provide comprehensive insights into thyroid cancer and how age can affect survival rate, specifically across different types of thyroid cancer. For more information, contact us to learn more about thyroid cancer survival rates by age or alternative treatment for thyroid cancer today.
Written By: Dr. Adolfo Carrillo
Dr. Adolfo Carrillo is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Autónoma de Baja California.
Dr. Carrillo has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista for over 5 years as a treating physician at the Immunity the Immunity Therapy Center. Dr. Carrillo is a charismatic Doctor whose knowledge and commitment to patient care and bringing healing to patients is a valuable asset to our center.
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.