What is the prognosis for a 14-year-old female with papillary thyroid cancer?


Quick Answer

No one can predict the exact outcome for any specific patient who has thyroid cancer, but the outlook for most children with papillary thyroid cancer is excellent, says Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Even when the cancer has spread, or metastasized, 95 percent of patients survive for many years.

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Full Answer

One of two types of differentiated thyroid cancer, papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type of thyroid cancer in both children and adults, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia explains. About 40 to 60 percent of children have cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis, and another 15 percent have metastatic disease in their lungs. In adults, this level of disease usually indicates a poor prognosis; however, most children who receive proper treatment go on to live healthy lives.

The initial treatment for papillary thyroid cancer is surgery to remove all or most of the thyroid, according to the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery. The surgeon also may remove the lymph nodes in the neck if it appears that the cancer has spread. After surgery, the child receives radioactive iodine to kill the remaining cancer cells in the thyroid and thyroid replacement therapy. If the cancer has spread to other places in the body, the doctor may prescribe chemotherapy as well.

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