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Thyroid cancer diagnosis

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.

You are likely to have the following tests:

  • Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of parts of your body. During an ultrasound, a small instrument is placed on your skin to create sound waves and map the echoes as they bounce off the thyroid. Then the echoes are converted by a computer into a black and white image for evaluation.
  • Biopsy Tissue Sample. A biopsy, usually under ultrasound guidance, removes cells to be checked by a pathologist under a microscope. Results from a biopsy help determine if abnormal cells are likely to be cancer. Your doctor will perform this procedure using a skinny needle biopsy.

Less commonly, thyroid cancer may be discovered in a different part of the body to which it has spread. Evaluation of these cancer deposits may reveal that they came from the thyroid gland.