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Medullary thyroid cancer staging is performed to help determine the extent of the cancer. A physician can then use that information to suggest an optimal course of treatment and provide a prognosis that is as accurate as possible. The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM staging system is used to stage medullary thyroid cancer as well as most other malignancies.

What is the TNM staging system?

The TNM system considers the size of the tumor (T), lymph node involvement (N) and metastases (M) – or how far the cancer has spread beyond its original site. Based on this information, the cancer is staged from 1 to 4, with 4 being the most advanced. Staging medullary thyroid cancer generally follows the following criteria:

  • Stage 1 – The tumor is very small (less than 0.8 inches) and is confined to the thyroid.
  • Stage 2 – The tumor is larger than 0.8 inches but has not spread beyond the thyroid.
  • Stage 3 – The cancer has spread to surrounding lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4 – The cancer has spread to distant structures in the body.

It’s important to note that determining a prognosis isn’t as simple as assigning a stage. There are several other factors that can impact a patient’s outlook, including his or her overall health, as well as the specific location and biological composition of the tumor. With that said, medullary thyroid cancer generally responds well to treatment; the five year survival rates for patients who are diagnosed in an early stage are near 100%.

Our approach to medullary thyroid cancer staging and treatment

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Thyroid Clinic provides a full spectrum of medullary thyroid cancer diagnostics, staging, treatment and supportive care in one location. Moffitt is a high-volume cancer center, and our multispecialty team has extensive experience in addressing rare malignancies like medullary thyroid cancer – experience that can make all the difference in achieving a successful outcome and improving quality of life.

Contact Moffitt at 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online if you would like to consult an oncologist about your symptoms, genetic risks or to receive a second opinion. We welcome patients with or without referrals.

Medullary Thyroid Cancer