The stage of a cancer describes its size and whether it has spread beyond the area of the body where it started. This information is about staging anaplastic thyroid cancer.

What is staging of anaplastic thyroid cancer?

The stage of a cancer describes its size and whether it has spread beyond the area of the body where it started.

Different types of thyroid cancer are staged differently. This information is about staging anaplastic thyroid cancer. We also have information about:

TNM staging

The most common staging system is the TNM system.

T describes the size of the tumour and whether it has spread into nearby tissues around the thyroid gland.

N describes whether the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes close to the thyroid gland.

M describes whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or the bones (metastatic).

T – Tumour

Doctors put a number next to the T to describe the size and spread of the cancer. All anaplastic thyroid cancers are T4.

  • T4a means the tumour has not grown outside the thyroid gland.
  • T4b means the tumour has grown outside the thyroid gland.

N – Nodes

The N may have a number written next to it, which gives information about the nodes that were examined.

N0 means the lymph nodes are not affected.

N1 means the cancer has spread to lymph nodes close to the thyroid gland or in the neck or chest area.

  • N1a means the cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes in the middle of the neck, close to the thyroid gland.
  • N1b means the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the side of the neck or top of the chest.

M – Metastases

The M may have a number written next to it, which gives information about whether the cancer has spread.

M0 means the cancer has not spread within the body.

M1 means the cancer has spread to another part of the body.

Number staging

Doctors often combine the information from the TNM system into an overall number stage, from 1 to 4.

All anaplastic thyroid cancers are stage 4. They are divided into three groups, from A to C.

Stage 4A

The tumour has not grown outside the thyroid gland and the cancer may or may not have spread to lymph nodes in the neck. It has not spread to other parts of the body.

Stage 4B

The tumour has grown outside the thyroid gland and the cancer may or may not have spread to lymph nodes in the neck. It has not spread to other parts of the body.

Stage 4C

The tumour is any size and the cancer may or may not have spread to lymph nodes. It has spread to other parts of the body, such as the lungs or the bones.

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