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Diagnosis and Prognosis of Thyroid Cancer

Authors:
  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Diagnosis and Prognosis of Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid cancer may not have symptoms. The doctor may notice changes to the thyroid during a normal physical exam. Something may also be found during a scan for another health issue. The doctor will ask about symptoms, past health, and family health history.

Suspicion of Thyroid Cancer

Other health issues can cause a change in the thyroid. They are more common and often easier to treat. Tests will be done to see if the changes may be due to cancer. Tests may include:

  • Blood tests—To look for signs of tumor growth. Thyroid hormones, calcitonin, and calcium levels can also be measured with blood tests. They can show a change in thyroid function.
  • Imaging tests—To find the tumor and see its size. Imaging tests may include:

References

  • Anaplastic thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anaplastic-thyroid-cancer.
  • Filetti, S., Durante, C., et al. Thyroid cancer: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of Oncology, 2019; 30 (12): 1856-1883.
  • Follicular thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/follicular-thyroid-cancer-21.
  • Medullary thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/medullary-thyroid-cancer.
  • Papillary thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/papillary-thyroid-cancer.
  • Stages of thyroid cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq#section/_27.
  • Tests for thyroid cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/thyroid-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/how-diagnosed.html.
  • Thyroid cancers. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/endocrine-and-metabolic-disorders/thyroid-disorders/thyroid-cancers.
  • Treatment option overview. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq#section/_67.

Contributors

  • James Cornell, MD
Last Updated:
2023-08-01

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.