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Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

Ultrasound
An ultrasound device uses sound waves that people cannot hear. The waves bounce off the thyroid, and a computer will use the echoes to create a picture called a sonogram. From the picture, the doctor will be able to see how many nodules are present, how big they are, and whether they are solid or filled with fluid.
 
Radionuclide Scanning
The doctor may order a nuclear medicine scan that uses a very small amount of radioactive material to make thyroid nodules (growths) show up on a picture. Nodules that absorb less radioactive material than the surrounding thyroid tissue are called cold nodules. Cold nodules may be benign or malignant (cancerous). Hot nodules take up more radioactive material than surrounding thyroid tissue and are usually benign.
 
Biopsy
The removal of tissue to look for cancer cells is called a biopsy. A biopsy can detect cancer, tissue changes that may lead to cancer, and other conditions. A biopsy is the only sure way to make a thyroid cancer diagnosis. The doctor may remove tissue through a needle or through surgery. In fine-needle aspiration, doctors will remove a tissue sample from a thyroid nodule with a thin needle. A pathologist will look at the cells under a microscope to check for cancer. In some cases, the doctor will use an ultrasound device to guide the needle through the nodule. In a surgical biopsy, the doctor will operate to remove the nodule, which will then be checked by a pathologist for cancer cells.
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Thyroid Cancer Information

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