What is the progression of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC) if left untreated?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020
  • Author: Ponnandai S Somasundar, MD, MPH, FACS; Chief Editor: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD  more...
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Answer

If neglected, any thyroid cancer may result in symptoms because of compression and/or infiltration of the cancer mass into the surrounding tissues, and the cancer may metastasize to lung and bone. Metastases, in descending order of frequency, are most common in the neck lymph nodes and lung, followed by the bone, brain, liver, and other sites. Metastatic potential seems to be a function of the primary tumor size. Metastases in the absence of thyroid pathology in the physical examination findings are rare in patients with microscopic papillary carcinoma (occult carcinomas).


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