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Diagnosis

To better understand the symptoms that may suggest thyroid cancer, your doctor may ask a series of questions regarding personal and family medical history.

One or more of the following tests may also be performed:
Physical exam: Your doctor feels your thyroid for lumps (nodules). Your doctor also checks your neck and nearby lymph nodes for growths or swelling.

Blood tests

Your doctor may check for abnormal levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood. Too much or too little TSH means the thyroid is not working well.

Ultrasound

Thyroid scan

Biopsy

Biopsy is the only sure way to diagnose thyroid cancer.

Staging

Staging of thyroid cancer consists of analyzing the size of the nodule, whether the cancer has spread, and if so, to what other parts of the body. Thyroid cancer spreads most often to the lymph nodes, lungs, and bones. When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of cancer cells and the same name as the original cancer. Doctors call the new tumor "distant" or metastatic disease.

Staging may involve one or more of these tests:

  • Ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Chest X-ray