How Old is Old with Thyroid Cancer?

Thyroid cancer patients staging information changing

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Most treatment plans for papillary thyroid cancer take a patient’s age into consideration. New research suggests that there may be no reason to use 45 years of age as a measurement point, as age 65 might be a better marker to start therapy.

A recent study grouped over 50,000 papillary thyroid cancer patients by 5-year age groups. Researchers found that 90 percent of patients under the age of 65 lived for 5 years or longer.

The study authors believe redefining age markers for papillary thyroid cancer could downstage (classify the cancer at a lower stage) many patients to provide more favorable prognosis and boost patients’ confidence about their futures.

"Report any sudden weight changes to your doctor."

Lindsay Bischoff, MD from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, led the investigation.

Program Co-Chair of the American Thyroid Association annual meeting, Elizabeth Pearce, MD, said, “While age at diagnosis appears to play a role in papillary thyroid cancer outcomes, new data suggest that a more appropriate age marker for prognosis is over 65 years.”

“Use of this older age marker would result in down-staging of many patients, reflecting a more favorable prognosis that could avoid potentially unnecessary therapies and allay patients’ fears about their longevity.”

For the study, 53,581 papillary thyroid cancer patients were categorized in 5-year groups from the ages of 20-84.

Since 1979, anyone with papillary thyroid cancer 45 years of age or older has been grouped together.

Researchers looked through the age categories of this large database to determine if the 45-64 year old crowd belonged in different classifications.

Study results found that 90 percent of people under the age of 65 lived for 5 years or longer after diagnosis.

They even found that 85 percent of people aged 70-74 lived for 5 years or longer. In fact, 5-year survival rates didn’t go below 70 percent until patients were in their 80’s.

This research was presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid Association September 19-23, 2012 in Quebec City, Canada. All research is considered primary until it has been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 20, 2012
Last Updated:
September 21, 2012