doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and your family’s. The interrogation can give him an
idea of your state of health, but not a confirmation of the diagnosis. In most cases, thyroid cancer diagnosis
include physical exam, blood tests, imaging techniques and biopsy.
Physical exam - during the physical exam, your doctor will examine your
throat in search of signs of thyroid cancer: lump in the neck, swollen lymph nodes, etc. However, even if he
finds vivid signs of the disease, he cannot conclude you have thyroid cancer; these signs are simply indicators.
Therefore, to confirm the diagnosis, he will perform other diagnostic procedures.
Neck ultrasound – this is an imaging technique allowing your doctor to
confirm presence of a nodule that was suspected during the physical examination. Using the ultrasound, your
physician can measure the size of the tumor and precisely locate it within the thyroid gland. In addition, using
ultrasound, your physician may identify and compare isolated or associated nature of the nodule with other
similar formations in order to rule out other medical conditions of the thyroid gland.
Blood test - this exam allows your doctor to determine the level of
your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which gives indirect information on the thyroid function. In addition,
he will search for the level of calcitonin, a hormone secreted by certain cells of the thyroid gland in response
to signals from the hypothalamus. The increase of calcitonin in blood concentration is a vivid marker of
medullary thyroid cancer.
Needle biopsy - needle aspiration biopsy (NAB) is a technique consists
of removing cells from your thyroid gland. The sample obtained is studied under microscope to look for cancer
cells. This biopsy is the most reliable examination to distinguish cancerous nodules from benign nodules.
Scintigraphy - using this diagnostic procedure, a health care
specialist can produce functional images of the thyroid gland to determine the size, shape and position of the
thyroid gland. In general, the images are taken after ingestion of very low doses of radioactive marker. Once
injected, the marker binds specifically to abnormal elements of the thyroid. Scintigraphy is indicated for the
detection of abnormalities in the thyroid gland, including cancerous growth.
Thyroid Cancer Stages