Establishing the stage of a cancer is important in order to develop a treatment plan and estimate the prognosis. The stages range from I to IV, where a higher number typically indicates a more invasive spread of the cancer. Outcomes will typically be best at Stage I, and diminish at each following Stage. However, there are always exceptions; each individual case is different.

The prognosis of metastatic thyroid cancer is on a case-to-case basic – your doctor will consider a variety of factors including your cancer’s response to treatment, the size of the tumour, your age, and your medical history.

Different forms of thyroid cancer will have different staging, but in general:

  • Stage I
    • The tumour is local to the thyroid, and still relatively small.
  • Stage II
    • The tumour is fairly localized, but may have spread to some of the neck muscles.
  • Stage III
    • The tumour has spread to the lymph nodes and/or tissues surrounding the thyroid gland.
  • Stage IV
    • The tumour has spread to several surrounding tissues, and may have metastasized to a new site in the body through the bloodstream.
      • A regional metastasis involves the neck muscles, the larynx, the trachea, or the esophagus.
      • A distant metastasis involves the lungs, the liver, the brain, or bone.


Information taken from Canadian Cancer Society.