Diagnosis for Thyroid Cancer

If signs and symptoms suggest you have thyroid cancer, we will perform tests to confirm the diagnosis and help guide treatment.

Our thyroid cancer diagnosis specialists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have access to many of the most advanced diagnostic tools available. We offer expertise that few other institutions can match.

For example, endocrinologists Jeffrey Zigman, M.D., Ph.D., ECNU, and Alex Tessnow, M.D., ECNU, are specially certified to perform ultrasound studies of the neck and thyroid gland, as well as ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsies of suspicious nodules and lymph nodes.

What to Expect

On your first visit with us, we will coordinate any tests and procedures to help us accurately diagnose your condition so we can prepare the best treatment plan for you.

If a thyroid nodule exhibits certain suspicious features on ultrasound, we may recommend a biopsy, a procedure during which thin needles are used to take tissue samples of the nodule. We save two samples: one to be examined under a microscope and, if there’s uncertainty about those results, one to be sent for more refined molecular diagnostic evaluation.

We will also answer any questions you or your family might have about your new diagnosis. A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be scary, but your care team will be there to support you along the way.

We will likely use one or more of these techniques to provide an accurate diagnosis: 

  • Neck ultrasound – This procedure uses sound waves to create images of the thyroid gland so your physician can look for suspicious features of thyroid nodules and lymph nodes.
  • Fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) – This biopsy of the thyroid nodule can Usually done in your doctor’s office or clinic, this procedure provides tissue that pathologists, working with your care providers, can evaluate to diagnose diseases, inform treatments, and provide important medical information.
  • Blood tests – Determining whether the thyroid gland is overproducing thyroid hormone is an important part of the diagnostic evaluation of a thyroid nodule.
  • Thyroid scan and uptake – If one or more thyroid nodules are present and if overproduction of thyroid hormone is suspected based on blood tests, a thyroid scan and uptake may be ordered to help determine whether one of the nodules is the source of the excess thyroid hormone.
  • Molecular diagnostic test – If your thyroid nodule biopsy yields an indeterminate result, a molecular diagnostic test can help us best assess the risk for thyroid cancer and recommend the most appropriate management strategy.
  • Genetic testing - Our Cancer Genetics Program is the only research-based clinical program in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to offer testing and counseling for all identified types of cancer.

After diagnosing your condition, our team will discuss your treatment options and make sure that you fully understand your treatment plan.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a specialist in thyroid nodules or thyroid cancer, complete our online form or call 214-645-8300.