Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose Hurthle cell cancer include:

  • Physical exam of the thyroid. Your doctor will examine your neck, checking the size of your thyroid and seeing whether your lymph nodes are swollen.
  • Blood tests to check thyroid function. Blood tests may reveal abnormalities in your thyroid function that give your doctor more information about your condition.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests can help your doctor determine whether an abnormal growth is present in the thyroid. Ultrasound is often used to create images of the thyroid gland. In other cases, imaging tests may include computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET).
  • Removing a sample of thyroid tissue for testing. If your doctor finds a tumor on your thyroid, a biopsy can help determine whether the tumor is cancerous or not. During a thyroid biopsy, your doctor passes a fine needle through the skin of your neck. Ultrasound imaging may be used to guide the needle into the tumor. The needle is attached to a syringe, which is used to withdraw thyroid tissue through the needle. The sample is sent to a laboratory where it's examined for signs of cancer.
Sep. 18, 2014

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