Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer

If you have symptoms that may be due to a thyroid cancer, you will usually begin by seeing your GP. They will do an examination and arrange any tests which may be necessary.

If your GP thinks that cancer may be present, or is not sure what the problem is, they will refer you to a hospital for specialist advice and treatment.

In order to determine the nature of any thyroid swelling, a Fine-needle aspiration or biopsy is usually performed. A small needle is passed gently into the swelling in your neck. Sometimes the doctor will use an ultrasound scanner to help guide the needle to the right area. They will then take a sample of cells and examine this under a microscope to check whether there are cancer cells present.

If a cancer is diagnosed, or there is any uncertainty, then sometimes it may be necessary to do a surgical biopsy, usually under general anesthetic. In addition to this, additional scans with ultrasound, CT scan or MRI scan may be required.

If you are a thyroid cancer patient and you are having a CT scan, then usually the scan is performed without dye (contrast) which can interfere with later treatments.

"Dear Chris, I know it isn’t easy having doctors as patients! Thanks for spending the time to talk things through with us"
Dr Anon, Devon

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