What Is Thyroid Cancer
There are several different types of thyroid cancer, the most common is papillary thyroid cancer, which usually grows in one lobe of the thyroid gland . Follicular thyroid cancer accounts for about 20% of thyroid cancers.
Less common thyroid cancers include medullary thyroid cancer, anaplastic thyroid cancer and thyroid sarcoma or lymphoma.
It is projected that 3830 new cases of thyroid cancer will be diagnosed in Australia in 2021, and it is more common in women.
The five year survival rate for thyroid cancer is 97%.
Which Cancers Can Be Detected Through Bloodwork
A 2020 study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine investigated how well blood tests could detect early cancers. It included 10,006 women and was designed to test the effectiveness of a new test called CancerSEEK. The test was developed to search for abnormal DNA and proteins in the bloodstream.
The study discovered 26 cases of previously undiagnosed cancer. Interestingly, 14 of these cancers were in organs such as the ovaries, kidneys, and lymphatic system, for which no standard screening currently exists. However, there were also some false positives, whereby the test indicated cancer but there was none.
There were also 24 cases of cancer among the subjects which the test did not pick up. Instead, they were detected through standard screening methods. They included breast, lung, and colorectal cancers.
A further 46 women received a diagnosis of cancer that neither the blood test nor standard screening detected. Most of these diagnoses were made after the women reported symptoms.
So, can a blood test detect cancer? It is clear that while blood tests can provide valuable clues, they can also create false positives or negatives. Therefore, standard screening procedures are still essential in the diagnosis of cancer. While we may be on the road to being able to detect cancer using blood tests, there is still a way to go.
How Thyroid Cancer Is Diagnosed
There are many tests used for diagnosing thyroid cancer. Not all tests described here will be used for every person. Your doctor may consider these factors when choosing a diagnostic test:
The type of cancer suspected
Your signs and symptoms
Your age and general health
The results of earlier medical tests
The following tests may be used to diagnose thyroid cancer:
After diagnostic tests are done, your doctor will review the results with you. If the diagnosis is thyroid cancer, these results also help the doctor describe the cancer. This is called staging.
Thenext section in this guide is Stages. It explains the system doctors use to describe the extent of the thyroid cancer. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.
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What Blood Tests Are Used To Check Thyroid Function
The doctor can recommend various blood tests to determine the function of your thyroid gland. These thyroid blood tests measure the levels of the T3 and T4 thyroid hormones secreted from the thyroid gland. The levels of thyroid hormone in the blood help analyse the functioning of the thyroid gland. Too low or too high levels of different thyroid hormones depicted in the thyroid blood tests indicate the possibility of thyroid disorders. Some doctors may recommend you get a fasting thyroid blood test, that is, giving your blood sample for the test when you have not eaten for at least 8-12 hours.
What Do Your Thyroid Blood Tests Mean
Letâs go through the tests you will most likely have to do and what their values mean.
Blood tests are some of the most valuable indicators for various types of thyroid disease. They can help diagnose thyroid conditions and monitor them.
That being said, they usually come in acronyms and no explanations, which can be difficult to understand. This is why Iâm hoping this thyroid blood test explanation will be useful in your preparation to talk to your doctor and understanding your results.
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What Are Thyroid Blood Tests And Why Are They Taken
Thyroid blood tests are used to tell if your thyroid gland is functioning properly by measuring the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood. They are done by withdrawing blood from a vein in your arm. These blood tests help to diagnose thyroid diseases.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front part of your neck. Its job is to produce thyroid hormones, which travel through your bloodstream and regulate many aspects of your bodys metabolism, including temperature, weight, and energy.
Thyroid blood tests show if you have:
- Hyperthyroidism: Overactive thyroid producing more thyroid hormones than your body needs. Hyperthyroidism speeds up your metabolism, which can cause weight loss, rapid heartbeat, insomnia, puffiness around the eyes, anxiety and other symptoms. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Graves disease.
- Hypothyroidism: Underactive thyroid producing too few thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism slows down your metabolism, which can cause weight gain, menstrual irregularity, dry and puffy skin, fatigue and other symptoms. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimotos disease.
Thyroid blood tests are used to diagnose thyroid disorders associated with hyper- or hypothyroidism. These include:
Comparing High/low Tsh And T3/t4 Levels
- Normal TSH + normal T4 = normal thyroid function
- High TSH + normal T4 = you may have a higher risk of developing an underactive thyroid
- Low TSH + high T4 = overactive thyroid
- High TSH + low T4 = underactive thyroid
- Low TSH + low T4 = low thyroid function due to another problem, such as pituitary gland dysfunction
Looking at TSH alongside T3 test results can also help with diagnosis:
- Low T3 + high TSH = low thyroid function
- High T3 + low TSH = overactive thyroid
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Are Radioactive Iodine Thyroid Scans Used To Diagnose Thyroid Cancer
If the thyroid blood tests are normal, radioactive iodine scans are seldom used in the United States in the evaluation of thyroid nodules. Radioactive iodine scans of the neck will document the location and general size of the isotope-concentrating thyroid but not as precisely as will an ultrasound. The portion of the gland which does not concentrate the radioisotope will not be visualized. It does provide a measure of the glands ability to pick-up or concentrate the radioactive isotope, a gross measure of thyroid function.
Most thyroid tumors, benign and malignant, will not concentrate the isotope but, on the contrary, a small portion of tumors that do so may be malignant. Thus, the radioactive isotope scan provides little help in distinguishing between benign and malignant tumors.
What Imaging Tests Do Doctors Use To Diagnose And Find The Cause Of Thyroid Disease
Your health care professional may order one or more imaging tests to diagnose and find the cause of thyroid disease. A trained technician usually does these tests in your doctors office, outpatient center, or hospital. A radiologist, a doctor who specializes in medical imaging, reviews the images and sends a report for your health care professional to discuss with you.
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What Blood Tests Are Done To Test The Thyroid
Thyroid blood tests include:
These tests alone arent meant to diagnose any illness but may prompt your healthcare provider to do additional testing to evaluate for a possible thyroid disorder.
Additional blood tests might include:
- Thyroid antibodies: These tests help identify different types of autoimmune thyroid conditions. Common thyroid antibody tests include microsomal antibodies , thyroglobulin antibodies , and thyroid receptor antibodies .
- Calcitonin: This test is used to diagnose C-cell hyperplasia and medullary thyroid cancer, both of which are rare thyroid disorders.
- Thyroglobulin: This test is used to diagnose thyroiditis and to monitor treatment of thyroid cancer.
How To Read Blood Test Results
While every laboratory or test-providing company may structure their result reports differently, they all must include the same components as mandated by federal legislation.
Some of that may be administrative content, such as the name of the person who did the blood test, the date the test was done, and the name of the doctor who ordered the test.
When it comes to understanding the results, you can look for the following :
- Quantitative test result. Results will be typically written out numerically in cases when the test measured the quantity of something. For example, if the test measured the amount of cholesterol in your blood.
- Abnormal markers. Often, a laboratory report will include some kind of marker to let you know if a result is outside the normal interval, and therefore abnormal. For example, you may see the letter H to indicate high, the letter L to indicate low, or the acronym WNL for within normal limits. You may see an asterisk and some additional comments in text if your results come out as highly abnormal. In this case, youll typically get a call from your doctor.
- Reference range. Every laboratory will have its own reference range for each type of test. Typically, this reference range will be written in your laboratory report next to the numerical value of your result so you are able to see where your result falls in the range.
To a blood test, the nurse or technician:
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What Are Thyroid Blood Tests
Thyroid function blood tests are diagnostic tests conducted to check whether or not your thyroid gland is functioning properly. These blood tests evaluate the level of triiodothyronine and thyroxine hormones secreted from the thyroid gland. These hormones play important functions in your body, and thus their regulation and monitoring are essential. The major functions of T3 and T4 hormones include
- These hormones regulate the rate at which calories are used in your body
- These hormones can cause fluctuations in heart rate by either slowing down or speeding up the heart rate
- Thyroid hormones also make changes in your body temperature
- Thyroid hormones influence the movement of food in your digestive tract
- They may also affect the development of the brain
- These hormones control muscle contraction
- These hormones maintain skin and bone health
What Are The Types Of Thyroid Cancer
PAPILLARY THYROID CANCER. Papillary thyroid cancer is the most common type, making up about 70% to 80% of all thyroid cancers. Papillary thyroid cancer can occur at any age. It tends to grow slowly and often spreads to lymph nodes in the neck. Papillary cancer has a generally excellent outlook, even if there is spread to the lymph nodes.
FOLLICULAR THYROID CANCER. Follicular thyroid cancer makes up about 10% to 15% of all thyroid cancers in the United States. Follicular cancer can spread through the blood to distant organs, particularly the lungs and bones.
Papillary and follicular thyroid cancers are also known as wellDifferentiated Thyroid Cancers . The information in this brochure refers to these differentiated thyroid cancers. The other types of thyroid cancer listed below will be covered in other brochures.
MEDULLARY THYROID CANCER. Medullary thyroid cancer , accounts for approximately 2% of all thyroid cancers. Approximately 25% of all MTC runs in families and is associated with other endocrine tumors . In family members of an affected person, a test for a genetic mutation in the RET proto-oncogene can lead to an early diagnosis of medullary thyroid cancer and, as a result, to curative surgery. 75% of patients with Medullary thyroid cancer do not have a hereditary form.
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What Is A Thyroid Nodule
A thyroid nodule is a collection of cells within the thyroid that grow and produce a lump. Sometimes these lumps can be felt by physical examination of the thyroid gland, but oftentimes they are detected as an incidental finding on radiology studies done for an unrelated reason. Fortunately, about 90-95% of thyroid nodules are benign .
Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy
As with all forms of cancer, thyroid cancer is diagnosed from the results of a biopsy. To determine if a is cancerous, doctors use a fine needle aspiration biopsy . This is usually the first test doctors will use if they suspect thyroid cancerand in some cases, it may be the only test used.
In an FNA biopsy, a doctor inserts a thin, hollow needle into the thyroid tissues and removes a sample of cells. Your doctor may repeat this a few times to retrieve samples from different parts of the swollen nodule. The extracted cells are then examined under a microscope to determine if they are benign or cancerous. This is generally done under ultrasound guidance for preciseness and to ensure that enough cells are extracted for the pathologists to make a judgment.
To get more details about FNA, read our article about .
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Lab Tests Of Biopsy Samples
In some cases, doctors might use molecular tests to look for specific gene changes in the cancer cells. This might be done for different reasons:
- If FNA biopsy results arent clear, the doctor might order lab tests on the samples to see if there are changes in the BRAF or RET/PTC genes. Finding one of these changes makes thyroid cancer much more likely.
- For some types of thyroid cancer, molecular tests might be done to see if the cancer cells have changes in certain genes , which could mean that certain targeted drugs might be helpful in treating the cancer.
These tests can be done on tissue taken during a biopsy or surgery for thyroid cancer. If the biopsy sample is too small and all the molecular tests cant be done, the testing may also be done on blood that is taken from a vein, just like a regular blood draw.
Can An Endoscopy Detect Thyroid Cancer
There is paucity in the literature on the use of endoscopic ultrasound for evaluating the thyroid gland. We report the first case of primary papillary thyroid cancer diagnosed by using EUS and fine needle aspiration . FNA of the lymph nodes showed benign findings.
What is the tumor marker for thyroid cancer?
Thyroglobulin is a protein made by cells in the thyroid. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located near the throat. A thyroglobulin test is mostly used as a tumor marker test to help guide thyroid cancer treatment.
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Who Orders My Blood Tests
Your doctor typically orders blood tests for you during a physical, checkup, or an appointment intended to screen for a specific condition.
Its possible to order your own blood tests without a doctor through laboratories like LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics, but health insurance may not cover these tests.
While such blood tests may more accessible and convenient, it may be harder to interpret the results without a medical professional.
Some blood testing facilities may also not give you accurate results.
One infamous case of this is Theranos. The California biotechnology firm shut down in 2018 when an investigation uncovered lies and fraud around the accuracy of its private blood-testing technology.
Currently, litigation is underway against the founder and chief executive of the company, Elizabeth Holmes.
After A Diagnosis Of Thyroid Cancer
After a diagnosis of thyroid cancer you may feel disbelief, uncertainty, fear and anxiety. There is no right or wrong way to feel and experiencing a range of emotions is normal. While the most common types of thyroid cancers have a very good long-term prognosis, you may still feel shocked and confused. It may help to talk to family and friends about how you are feeling.
Ask your specialist to explain treatment options and any potential side effects and financial concerns. Take as much time as you can so that you can make well-informed decisions.
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What Is A Thyroglobulin Test
A thyroglobulin test measures the level of thyroglobulin in a sample of your blood. Thyroglobulin is a protein that your thyroid makes. Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck. It makes hormones that control many activities in your body, including your heart rate and how fast you burn calories from food.
A thyroglobulin test is a type of tumor marker test. Tumor markers are substances made by cancer cells and/or by normal cells in response to cancer in your body. Normally, your thyroid releases small amounts of thyroglobulin into your bloodstream. Cells from common types of thyroid cancer also release thyroglobulin.
Thyroglobulin testing is not used to diagnose thyroid cancer because other thyroid diseases that aren’t cancer can also affect thyroglobulin levels. But the test is useful after treatment for common thyroid cancers to see if the treatment worked. That’s because the goal of treatment is to get rid of all thyroid tissue both healthy cells and cancer cells. So, if treatment is successful, there should be little or no thyroglobulin in your blood. If thyroglobulin levels remain the same or increase, more cancer treatment may be needed.
Other names: Tg, TGB. thyroglobulin tumor marker
What Is The Procedure Of The Thyroglobulin Test
For carrying out the thyroglobulin test procedure, a sample of blood is collected by the process of venipuncture. Venipuncture is done by the following steps: A tourniquet is wrapped around the upper arm to make the veins more prominent. A syringe or needle is used to draw blood by puncturing the vein. The blood is drawn into the tube of the syringe. The tourniquet is unwrapped. An antiseptic is applied to the spot of venipuncture to avoid any infection. The spot of injection of the syringe is dabbed by a cotton swab or a bandage is put to stop any further bleeding.The blood sample is then sent to the laboratory for the Thyroglobulin test.
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