A thyroid cancer diagnosis typically begins when a routine examination shows an abnormality of the thyroid gland, or when a person visits a doctor because of signs and symptoms. The process may be long and frustrating, but it’s important to get the required tests to rule out any other possible causes, seeing as many other health conditions can cause similar symptoms.

Some necessary diagnostic steps will be a health history, including past exposure to ionizing radiation and family history of thyroid cancer; blood tests, in order to measure thyroid hormone levels; or an ultrasound, to investigate the nodules or to guide a needle in order to obtain a biopsy.

In addition to this, it is also possible to obtain a diagnosis through radioactive iodine tests as well as a variety of imaging tests, including CT, X-Ray, PET, and MRI scans.

Here are all the possible diagnostic tests that may be done to confirm a thyroid cancer diagnosis:

  • Medical history and physical exam
  • Biopsy
  • Further blood tests
  • Ultrasound
  • Tumour market tests
  • Blood chemistry tests
  • Laryngoscopy
  • Computer tomography (CT) scan
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • PET scan
  • Radioactive iodine scan

Many of the same diagnostic methods used to determine if you have thyroid cancer will be used to determine the stage of your cancer. Your doctor will use these diagnostic and staging tests to also determine your treatment plan and prognosis.

To read more about these various diagnostic tests, consult the Canadian Cancer Society.