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Cancer Health Center

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Thyroid Cancer - Exams and Tests

In order to diagnose thyroid cancer, your doctor will ask about your medical history and do a physical exam.

Your doctor may check your vocal cords using a thin tube-like instrument that has a light (laryngoscope).

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Your doctor may order a CT scan or an ultrasound to get a better look at your thyroid. If your doctor thinks that the lump or nodule could be cancerous, he or she may do a fine needle biopsy of the thyroid gland.

You may also have blood tests to check the levels of your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), serum calcitonin, or carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).

Other tests may be done before, during, or after your treatment for thyroid cancer.

In some cases, an MRI, a chest X-ray, a CT scan, or a PET scan may be done.

If you have medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), a CT scan of the chest and belly and a bone scan may also be needed.

Early detection

At this time there are not any screening tests for thyroid cancer that work well for people at average risk. Talk to your doctor about whether you need to be screened for thyroid cancer.

People who have a family history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) may want to have a genetic test to look for a gene change called an RET mutation. Before you have the test, it is a good idea to talk with a genetic counselor. He or she can help you understand what your test results may mean.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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