How Common Is Thyroid Cancer Recurrence?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Thyroid cancer recurrence is not unheard of, but the actual statistics vary widely based on the cancer's staging and how it was treated. Patients who have their thyroid gland removed during an earlier stage of the disease are less likely to have another bout with this type of cancer. Those who only have a partial removal or who have a later stage of the disease are more likely to suffer a recurrence. Overall, the five-year survival rate for thyroid cancer is very good when compared to other forms of cancer.

The rates of thyroid cancer recurrence are relatively low amongst patients who have early staged cancer. These rates are even lower for those who receive a full thyroid removal and follow-up treatment. The earliest stages of thyroid cancer are confined to the thyroid gland and sometimes the lymph nodes immediately surrounding it. In general, though, even later stages of thyroid cancer are easier to treat than other forms of the disease.

One factor which may impact the thyroid cancer recurrence rate is the aggressiveness of treatment. If all cancer is detected and destroyed, the recurrence rate is extremely low. Most thyroid cancers are detected in these earlier stages, and many times the cancers spread slowly. Later staged cancer is also highly treatable, with a five year survival rate of 60% for stage four cancers.


There ways to help prevent thyroid cancer recurrence in patients who have a diagnosed case. Treatment should be begun as soon as possible, and as much of the cancer should be removed as is feasible. If the cancer cells have spread beyond the thyroid gland, treatments like chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be needed to destroy them. Patients should also go to all scheduled checkups to be tested for any unusual cells around the area of the thyroid.

Those who receive treatment quickly have the lowest rates for thyroid cancer recurrence. Others, who are treated later or whose thyroid gland is not fully removed may have a higher rate of recurrent cancers. A recurrence in cancer is based on each individual person, but it is not uncommon for cancers to return, so precautions should be taken.


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Post 1

I had a TT on in January 2013. One was 2 cm and one smaller and I had one lymph node removed. I am scheduled for RAI treatment in May. I just wanted to know the chances of recurrence of having more cancerous lymph nodes. Is the percentage relatively low?

I am also waiting until May. I am worried that if there are cancerous nodes left that they would be spreading while I wait for treatment.

I am a nervous person to start with so I would really love to hear some reassurance. I've read about too many negative situations on the forums.

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