Your doctor may suspect thyroid cancer if you are experiencing symptoms and a physical exam suggests that you have swollen lymph nodes in your neck or a lump on your thyroid gland.
To find out whether or not your symptoms are caused by cancer, your doctor may want you to undergo a procedure called fine-needle aspiration (FNA). A very thin needle will be inserted into the suspicious area to draw cells into a syringe. (You may or may not need a numbing medication before the FNA.) A pathologist examines those cells to determine if cancer is present. This is called a biopsy.
Different types of imaging may also be helpful in providing additional information that will be important for a diagnosis. These could include: