We have numerous lymph nodes all over our bodies. Most of us feel them in our necks as small round structures the size of jelly beans. Their functions are to help us fight infection and foreign elements to our body like cancer cells. In Papillary thyroid cancer, one of its main methods of spreading is by lymph nodes dissemination.
When the cancer cells travel outside the thyroid cancer nodule, the nearby neck lymph nodes capture them to prevent them from spreading further to the rest of the body. At this point, this lymph node will be called a metastatic lymph node.
In patients with thyroid cancers, lymph node spread (metastases)within the neck lymph nodes may occur in up to 75 percent of cases. The presence of lymph node metastasis in the neck may be associated with a higher stage of the disease and a higher chance that cancer comes back months or years later (a higher recurrence rate).