Radioactive iodine scintigraphy uses a radioactive form of iodine and a special camera to detect thyroid cancer cells in the body. It is most often used after surgery to find any remaining cancer cells. This test is very useful for papillary and follicular thyroid cancers. The actual diagnosis of thyroid cancer is made with a biopsy, in which cells are removed from the suspicious area and examined in the laboratory.
For most types of cancer, a biopsy is the only sure way for a doctor to know if an area of the body has cancer. In a biopsy, the doctor takes a small sample of tissue for analysis in a laboratory. If a biopsy isn't possible, your doctor may suggest other tests that will help make a diagnosis. The doctor will feel the neck, thyroid gland, throat, and lymph nodes (small, bean-shaped organs that help fight infection) in the neck for unusual growths or swelling.
If surgery is recommended, the larynx can be examined at the same time with a laryngoscope, which is a thin, flexible tube with a light. If the needle aspiration biopsy is not clear, the doctor may suggest a biopsy in which the nodule and possibly the affected thyroid lobe will be removed by surgery. Removal of the nodule alone is generally not recommended because of the possibility of completely removing the potentially cancerous tumor without sufficient margins, which is an area of tissue around the nodule. This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia.
It may also require hospitalization. Molecular testing of the nodule sample. Your doctor may recommend laboratory testing of a tumor sample to identify genes, proteins, and other factors specific to the tumor. Genetic testing of the thyroid nodule can help you understand the risk that the thyroid nodule is cancerous.
Other genetic, protein, and molecular analysis of thyroid cancers can help determine treatment options, including types of treatments called targeted therapy. This test is also called a whole-body scan. This scan will be done using a very small and harmless amount of radioactive iodine I-131 or I-123, called a tracer. It is most commonly used to learn more about a thyroid nodule.
In this test, the patient ingests the marker, which is taken up by thyroid cells. This causes thyroid cells to appear on the scan image, allowing the doctor to see the differences between these cells and other structures in the body. CT scans are often used in people with thyroid cancer to examine parts of the neck that cannot be seen with an ultrasound (see above). In addition, CT scans of the chest may be needed to see if thyroid cancer has spread to that area of the body.
CT scans of the abdomen may be used to see if thyroid cancer has spread to the liver or other sites. Patients with the inherited form (see Risk Factors) of TCM may be at risk of developing other types of endocrine tumors in the abdomen; these patients may also have a CT scan of the abdomen. The only way to confirm if a lump in the thyroid is cancer is through a biopsy. This is where a small sample of cells is removed and studied under a microscope.
Thyroid cancer is usually suspected because a lump or mass is found in the front of the neck. In most cases, a needle biopsy of the nodule is needed to obtain cells for careful evaluation under a microscope. In most cases, microscopic analysis of cells obtained from a needle biopsy can easily determine if a nodule is benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancer). While thyroid blood tests are usually done to assess thyroid function, and an ultrasound of the thyroid is often done to assess the structure of the thyroid gland, none of these types of tests is sufficient to determine with confidence whether a thyroid nodule is benign or malignant.
Radioactive iodine can also be used to treat differentiated thyroid cancer, but it is given in much higher doses. Medullary thyroid carcinoma (CMT) can be caused by a genetic syndrome that also causes a tumor called pheochromocytoma. About 10% of thyroid cancers develop during pregnancy or during the first year after delivery. These scans become even more sensitive if the entire thyroid gland was removed by surgery, because the remaining thyroid cancer cells take up more radioactive iodine.
If you are diagnosed with thyroid cancer during pregnancy, your healthcare provider can discuss treatment options. Most thyroid tumors, benign and malignant, do not concentrate the isotope but, on the contrary, a small portion of the tumors that do so may be malignant. The biopsy samples are then sent to a laboratory, where they are examined to see if the cells look cancerous or benign. Your doctor will use this test to determine the current levels of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T) and thyroxine (T) in your body.
Thyroglobulin (Tg) is a protein naturally produced by the thyroid, as well as by differentiated thyroid cancer. It can be used to identify abnormal areas of the thyroid gland or to determine if cancer has spread to other areas of the body. Abnormal levels could mean you have an overactive or underactive thyroid, rather than cancer. Your doctor will examine you for more information about possible signs of thyroid cancer and other health problems.
Your multidisciplinary team will work with you to develop a personalized plan to treat thyroid cancer in a way that fits your individual needs and goals. A number of laboratory tests and procedures designed to diagnose thyroid cancer are used to evaluate and stage the disease. . .