MONDAY, June 11 (HealthDay News) -- Most people with thyroid cancer live as long as people who don't have the disease, a new study finds. Patients with advanced thyroid cancer are the exception.

German researchers analyzed data from 1,502 patients with differentiated thyroid cancer (which includes two types of thyroid cancer, follicular and papillary) had been treated with radioiodine therapy. Only patients with advanced disease (stage 4-c) had a lower chance of long-term survival than the general population.

Survival did not vary based on age or sex, or even if a patient's cancer had reached the beginning of stage 4.

The study was scheduled for Monday presentation at the Society of Nuclear Medicine annual meeting in Miami Beach, Fla.

"With these survival rates, patients with differentiated thyroid cancer in stages 1 to 4-a could even be considered healthy patients," lead investigator Dr. Alexis Vrachimis, at the department of nuclear medicine, University Hospital Muenster, said in a society news release.

The researchers said the findings highlight the excellent diagnostic and treatment methods available to patients with differentiated thyroid cancer, which is the most common form of the disease.

More than 56,000 Americans will be diagnosed with thyroid cancer and nearly 1,800 will die of the disease in 2012, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about thyroid cancer.