Thyroid Cancer

Diagnosis of Thyroid Cancer

If you have symptoms that may be due to a thyroid cancer, such as a thyroid swelling, your Doctor will do an examination and arrange any tests which may be necessary in order to obtain a diagnosis of thyroid cancer.

If your Doctor 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 under local anaesthetic. 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 diagnosis of thyroid cancer is made, or there is any uncertainty, then sometimes it may be necessary to do a surgical biopsy, usually under general anaesthetic.  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.

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