If your healthcare provider believes you may have thyroid cancer, you will need certain exams and tests to be sure.

You should expect to be asked questions about your health history, your symptoms, risk factors, and family history of disease. Understanding your background will help your provider make a diagnosis.

He or she will also give you a physical exam, including an exam of your thyroid gland. You may have one or more of the following tests.

Your doctor might perform one or more of the following tests to help diagnose thyroid cancer:

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound creates images using sound waves. It can help your doctor determine whether a nodule on your thyroid is filled with fluid or solid, which can be a sign of cancer. It can also show the number and size of nodules and whether nearby lymph nodes are enlarged.
  • Radioiodine scan: This test is helpful in determining whether a neck lump might be cancerous, as well as showing if cancer that has been diagnosed has spread. A pill with a small amount of radioactive iodine is swallowed and several hours later a camera measures the amount of radiation in the thyroid. Areas that absorb less radioactivity could be cancerous.
  • MRI scan: While an ultrasound is usually done first, an MRI, which uses magnets to create detailed images, can show cancerous areas of the body.

Patients will be contacted after tests by a Markey team member to review results. Further management will be recommended at that time.

When you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer, it is common to feel a sense of urgency around starting treatment.

However, in most cases, there is time to do the needed research to ensure that your diagnosis is correct. That may include getting a second opinion.

Our team of experts works together to diagnose, treat and prevent thyroid cancer, with a focus on individualized patient care.

Markey is among the best cancer centers in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report, when it comes to advanced treatment options, survival rates and experienced providers. As the first and only NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center in Kentucky, Markey can serve many patients each year with rare and common cancers, including thyroid cancer.

Our specialized team is happy to work with your doctors and communicate to ensure confidence in your diagnosis.

Should I get a second opinion?

A second opinion can help to ensure that you will be getting the latest and most effective therapy for treating thyroid cancer. The following are common reasons for seeking a second opinion after your initial diagnosis:

  • A dedicated team specialized in thyroid cancer may not be available in your area.
  • There may be uncertainty around the stage of thyroid cancer.
  • You are having difficulty understanding your diagnosis.
  • You may want to learn more about different treatment options, including clinical trials and advanced technologies only available at an advanced center like Markey.
  • Your health insurance requires a second opinion before continuing toward treatment.

Questions to ask when getting a second opinion

After receiving a cancer diagnosis, you may have a lot on your mind. Here a few questions to keep in mind for your doctor when seeking a second opinion:

  • Is there a chance that my medical problem could have a different diagnosis?
  • Are there additional tests I should take before moving forward with treatment?
  • Do you recommend any treatments at this time?
  • What do you expect to happen if I wait or don't have the treatment?
  • What are the side effects of treatment?
  • How long are treatment recovery periods?

For more information, visit these trusted national sources for a variety of additional educational tools and resources:

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.