Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

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If you are worried about your symptoms being related to the development of thyroid cancer then you need to see your physician get your thyroid examined. Thyroid cancer diagnosis is a set of tests that help the doctor determine whether the subject has cancer or not and if the subject does then stage of the cancer.

The doctor has to perform several tests and counseling-sittings to get the exact thyroid cancer diagnosis. The tests check whether the tumor in the thyroid (lump) is benign or not, in most cases the tumor is not dangerous but that shouldn't keep you from going ahead with tests. Here are few procedures related to thyroid cancer detection:

Getting physically examined:

This is the first and foremost step of examination of the individual which includes manually checking for enlargement in the size of the thyroid gland and examination of the body in general. The doctor may include following procedures in his tests:

  • Palpation of neck or examination by touching
  • Examination of the thyroid rhythm using a stethoscope
  • Examination of blood pressure and pulse rate
  • Examination of face, eyes and skin
  • Look for signs of tremors, jerky movements and shaking of hands

Blood Tests:

Blood tests enable the doctor to gather more information about your case, in knowing whether the thyroid is functioning normally or otherwise. Few blood tests related to analysis of functioning of thyroid are:

T3 and T4 tests:

The imbalance in T3 and T4 hormone levels are very rare. These hormones are related to the performance of the major functions of the thyroid gland. Their levels are tested to estimate the efficiency of thyroid's working.

CEA tests:

CEA (Carcinoembryonic Antigen) is a protein, over-secretion of which can imply cancerous behavior.

TSH tests:

TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) tests help the doctor in choosing the right imagery test. Blood levels of TSH reflect the health of the thyroid gland in general.

Calcitonin and Thyroglobulin tests:

  • Calcitonin is a hormone made by C cells in the thyroid and they affect the calcium levels in the blood.
  • Thyroglobulin test helps in the prognosis in the way that they help us to know whether the treatment is effective or not. They also check whether the thyroglobulin levels are low and constant, if otherwise, the cancer is recurrent.


This process might apparently look obnoxious but it is very critical as far as the diagnosis is concerned. Sample of tissue is taken out form the supposedly affected or doubtful area using FNA (Fine Needle Aspiration) technique. Generally, several such tests have to be repeated as the doctor takes the sample from different areas of the thyroid to examine the extent of the damage and to see the reach of the cancerous cells in the thyroid nodule. It is one of the simplest and easiest ways of detecting the malignancy of cells and certainly one of the most used methods in thyroid cancer diagnosis.

Tests using Imaging Techniques:

Imaging tests are performed in all the steps, ranging from diagnosis to post-treatment examination. Imaging tests help gather elaborate information about the subject and hence a very comprehensive thyroid cancer diagnosis. These scans can be performed internally and externally as well by transmission of extremely high frequency waves. Few imaging tests are listed below:

Radioactive or Nuclear Scans:

In this method of scanning the radioactive iodine is swallowed by the subject. The radioactive iodine is absorbed by the various parts in the body and they start displaying radioactivity and subsequently hot-radioactive and cold-radioactive areas are detected with the aid of a camera. Areas of the body displaying hot-radioactivity display high radioactivity and can be termed as normal, but on the other hand cold-radioactive areas can be benign or cancerous. It is the fallacy of this test as it cannot determine whether the particular nodule is cancerous or not. This method of cancer detection can involve injecting of radioactive substance in the blood also.

MRI (Magnetic resonance Imager) Scan:

MRI provides a detailed imagery of soft tissues particularly those of thyroid. It uses radio-waves to determine the spread of radiation and thus helps in locating the affected area. They also help in determining metastasis.

X-Ray Scans:

These scans help determine whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body i.e. distant metastasis.

CT (Computed Tomography) Scans:

This type of scan is one of the most comprehensive of all thyroid cancer diagnosis method; it uses X-Rays but is much more elaborated than a plain X-Ray scan as this scan includes pictures from various angles and a compilation of these shots. It helps to exactly locate the reach of the cancer in the body. In peculiar cases, CT scans assist the procedure of biopsy.

Thus, thyroid cancer diagnosis is the most important process in the treatment of the disease as it decides the kind of treatment to be chosen and assists in the treatment with the invaluable data it provides.

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