Thyroid Cancer - Diagnosis & Treatment

How is thyroid cancer diagnosed?

You should see an endocrinologist (hormone specialist) for assessment through these ways:

  • Ultrasound – this allows the doctors to accurately measure the size of a nodule. Certain sonographic features may help to tell the differences between benign (non-cancerous) and cancerous nodules. For instance, nodules that are small (below 1cm), well-defined or contain mostly fluid are likely benign.
  • Blood tests – thyroid function and thyroid antibodies should also be tested through blood tests as higher levels of thyroid stimulating hormone and antibodies are linked with a greater chance of cancer.

How is thyroid cancer treated?

The majority of thyroid cancers tend to grow slowly over 1 – 2 years. If the biopsy indicates the lump or cyst is cancerous, the main treatment is surgery.

With surgery, there may be a risk of injury to the nerve to the vocal cords, which would cause hoarseness. Open surgery is usually recommended, but robotic surgery is available if there are cosmetic considerations. The scar is usually hidden in the armpit or the hairline.

Treatments for thyroid cancer include:

  • Conventional open thyroid surgery to remove half or the whole thyroid gland through an incision in the lower-mid neck
  • Radio-iodine treatment or radiotherapy that might be needed after surgery
  • Robotic thyroidectomy, an advanced robotic surgery, that can be used to completely remove the thyroid gland without a cut in the neck
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