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Thyroid Cancer Staging

Staging is an attempt to determine the extent of thyroid cancer. The specific stages used to describe the disease vary depending on what type a person has. Examples of tests and procedures that may be used in thyroid cancer staging include an ultrasound, a computed tomography scan, magnetic resonance imaging, and a radionuclide scan.

An Introduction to Staging for Thyroid Cancer

If a doctor makes a thyroid cancer diagnosis, he or she will need to determine the stage, or extent, of the disease in order to plan the best thyroid cancer treatment. Staging is an attempt to find out:
  • The size of the tumor
  • Whether the disease has spread, and if so, to what parts of the body.
Staging for each type of thyroid cancer is slightly different.

Thyroid Cancer Staging Tests

Tests and procedures that may be used in thyroid cancer staging include:
  • Ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Radionuclide scan (diagnostic I-131 whole body scan).
An ultrasound is a procedure in which high-energy sound waves (ultrasound) are bounced off internal tissues or organs and make echoes. The echoes will then form a picture of body tissues called a sonogram.
Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
A CT scan is a procedure that makes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body that are taken from different angles. A computer that is linked to an x-ray machine makes these pictures. A dye may be injected into a vein or swallowed to help the organs or tissues show up more clearly on the scan. This procedure is also called computerized tomography or computerized axial tomography (CAT).
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Thyroid Cancer Information

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