Thyroid Cancer Screening
Thyroid cancer screening involves testing people for the disease who show no symptoms of the cancer. While a routine, effective screening test has not yet been developed for all types of the disease, there are certain blood tests that can be used to screen for an abnormal gene associated with the cancer in people with a family history of certain forms of thyroid cancer. These thyroid cancer screening tests are confidential and can be helpful.
Thyroid cancer screening involves testing people for early stages of thyroid cancer even though they exhibit no symptoms of the disease. At this point, a routine, effective thyroid cancer screening test has not yet been developed for all types of thyroid cancer. However, there are certain blood tests that can be used to screen for thyroid cancer in people with a family history of the disease.
Scientists have studied patterns of cancer in the population to learn:
- Which people are more likely to get certain types of cancer
- What things around us may cause cancer
- What things we do in our lives may cause cancer (see Cause of Thyroid Cancer).
This information may help doctors recommend:
- Who should be screened for certain types of cancer
- What types of screening tests people should have
- How often these tests should be done.
If your doctor suggests certain cancer screening tests as part of your healthcare plan, it does not mean that your doctor thinks that you have cancer. Doctors perform screening tests when you have no symptoms. However, decisions about screening can be difficult, and you should discuss the potential benefits and risks of screening tests (and whether they have been proven to decrease the risk of dying from cancer) with your doctor.
If your doctor suspects that you have cancer, he or she will order diagnostic tests. Tests that doctors use for diagnostic purposes may not be suitable for screening people who do not have symptoms.