Having tests for thyroid cancer
This information is for teenagers and young adults who may be having tests to find out if they have thyroid cancer. If you think you might have some of the symptoms of thyroid cancer cancer, you should
talk to your GP. If they think the
symptoms could be because of cancer,
they can do tests to find out more.
Visiting your GP
When you go to your GP they will usually examine you and arrange some blood tests. There may be a number of reasons why you have these symptoms. If your GP is concerned that you may have thyroid cancer they will make an appointment for you with a specialist at the hospital.
At the hospital
You’ll probably be seen by lots of people at the hospital during and after the tests they do to find out what is happening to you. They work as a team and all play an important part in your care, even though you may only meet some of them.
They may include:
- a doctor who specialises in thyroid problems (endocrinologist)
- a surgeon who specialises in thyroid surgery
- a pathologist who looks at blood and tissue samples to diagnose diseases
- a cancer specialist (oncologist)
- an x-ray specialist (radiologist)
- a clinical nurse specialist.
Your doctor will examine you and arrange for more detailed tests, which may include an ultrasound, a fine needle aspiration (FNA) or a biopsy.
A FNA involves having a very small needle placed into your thyroid gland to remove a few cells for the pathologist to look at under the microscope.
A biopsy involves removing a small piece of the thyroid to be analysed. You might have a general anaesthetic and so will be asleep when it is done. You may only need a local anaesthetic, which numbs the area. There is more information about having an anaesthetic in the surgery section.
If the biopsy shows that it is thyroid cancer you will have some other tests to check the size of the tumour and whether it has spread. These may include:
- a chest x-ray to check your lungs
- a CT, MRI or PET scan
- a radioisotope scan to look closer at the thyroid.
You won’t necessarily need all of these tests. It will depend on the results of the first ones.
Having tests and waiting for the results can be an anxious time. Talking about how you feel and getting support from your family, friends, specialist nurse or doctor can help.
We have more information about:
If you're looking for information about thyroid cancer in people of all ages please see our general thyroid cancer information.