Thyroid Tumor Staging

Defining the size and characteristics of a cancerous thyroid tumor

Written by Bridget Brady MD, FACS

After thyroid cancer is diagnosed, it is staged. Staging is a tool your doctor uses to classify characteristics about your malignant thyroid tumor. Staging the tumor helps your doctor determine the best treatment for your thyroid cancer. The staging system was developed by the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) and is called the TNM System. The letter T stands for tumor, N for nodes and M means metastasis.

One or more of the following may help stage your thyroid cancer:

TNM System Basics

"T" Thyroid Cancer Categories

"N" Thyroid Cancer Categories

"M" Thyroid Cancer Categories

Bridget Brady, MD, FACS is the first fellowship-trained endocrine surgeon in Austin, Texas. She has a passion for and expertise in disease of the thyroid, parathyroid, and adrenal glands. Dr. Brady has performed thousands of thyroidectomies and parathryoidectomies with a focus on minimally invasive techniques to optimize patients’ medical and cosmetic outcomes.


AJCC. American Joint Committee on Cancer. Accessed June 21, 2016.

ThyCa: Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association. Thyroid Cancer Types, Stages and Treatment Overview. Last Updated June 2, 2016.  Accessed June 21, 2016.

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