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    Thyroid Cancer Treatment (PDQ®): Treatment - Patient Information [NCI] - Stages of Thyroid Cancer

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    Stage I

    In stage I papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, cancer is found only in the thyroid and the tumor is 2 centimeters or smaller.

    Stage II

    In stage II papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, cancer is only in the thyroid and the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters but not larger than 4 centimeters.

    Stage III

    In stage III papillary and follicular thyroid cancer, either of the following is found:

    • the tumor is larger than 4 centimeters and only in the thyroid or the tumor is any size and cancer has spread to tissues just outside the thyroid, but not to lymph nodes; or
    • the tumor is any size and cancer may have spread to tissues just outside the thyroid and has spread to lymph nodes near the trachea or the larynx (voice box).

    Stage IV

    Stage IV papillary and follicular thyroid cancer is divided into stages IVA, IVB, and IVC.

    • In stage IVA, either of the following is found:
      • the tumor is any size and cancer has spread outside the thyroid to tissues under the skin, the trachea, the esophagus, the larynx (voice box), and/or the recurrent laryngeal nerve (a nerve with two branches that go to the larynx); cancer may have spread to nearby lymph nodes; or
      • the tumor is any size and cancer may have spread to tissues just outside the thyroid. Cancer has spread to lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck or between the lungs.
    • In stage IVB, cancer has spread to tissue in front of the spinal column or has surrounded the carotid artery or the blood vessels in the area between the lungs; cancer may have spread to lymph nodes.
    • In stage IVC, the tumor is any size and cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs and bones, and may have spread to lymph nodes.

    The following stages are used for medullary thyroid cancer:

    Stage 0

    Stage 0 medullary thyroid cancer is found only with a special screening test. No tumor can be found in the thyroid.

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