Saturday, November 25, 2023

What Percentage Of Thyroid Biopsies Are Cancerous

Signs Of Thyroid Cancer

Preparing for your thyroid biopsy – UF Health Endocrinology in Jacksonville

Most thyroid nodules are asymptomatic, non-palpable and only detected on ultrasound or other anatomic imaging studies. The following characteristics increase the suspicion of cancer:

  • Swelling in the neck
  • Trouble breathing
  • A constant cough that is not due to a cold

An FNAB helps determine if a nodule is malignant or benign. But about 30 percent of the time, the results are inconclusive or indeterminate unable to determine if cancer is present. In this case, the recommended follow-up is a repeat FNAB, a core needle biopsy or a lobectomy/thyroidectomy surgery to remove part or all of the thyroid gland. Once removed, the thyroid nodule is thoroughly evaluated by a pathologist to diagnose or dismiss thyroid cancer.

In large thyroid nodules, 4 cm or bigger, the FNAB results are highly inaccurate, misclassifying half of all patients with reportedly benign lesions. Additionally, Inconclusive FNAB results display a high-risk of differentiated thyroid carcinoma. Diagnostic lobectomy is strongly considered in patients with a significant thyroid nodule regardless of FNAB results.

Never miss another Cancer Talk blog!

Sign up to receive our monthly Cancer Talk e-newsletter.

What Are Thyroid Nodules

The thyroid gland is located in the lower front of the neck, below the voicebox and above the collarbones.

A thyroid nodule is a lump in or on the thyroid gland. Thyroid nodules are detected in about 6 percent of women and 1-2 percent of men they occur 10 times as often in older individuals, but are usually not diagnosed.

Any time a lump is discovered in thyroid tissue, the possibility of malignancy must be considered. More than 95 percent of thyroid nodules are benign , but tests are needed to determine if a nodule is cancerous.

Benign nodules include:

Most Thyroid Nodules Are Benign But Some Thyroid Nodules Are Thyroid Cancer

A small percentage of thyroid nodules are malignant . You can not tell if a thyroid nodule is malignant due to symptoms or lack of symptoms. Those thyroid nodules that are cancer, tend to be very slow growing. The very rare thyroid nodule that is an aggressive thyroid cancer may present with a large thyroid mass, firm or non-mobile mass or even change in vocal quality. Only in these very rare circumstances, when the thyroid nodule is an aggressive thyroid cancer, is there an urgent need for prompt evaluation and thyroid cancer surgery by the most highly experienced thyroid cancer surgeon. Otherwise, thoughtful evaluation and consultation by an expert thyroid cancer surgeon is required for thyroid nodules. In other words, the vast majority of thyroid nodules can be worked up without a sense of urgency. Dont make rash, quick decisionsthyroid nodules in almost all cases provide plenty of time to get figured out. So chill if you are here because you just found out you have a thyroid nodule. Read and understand what this means. And realize that in almost all cases, you have time to figure this out! We have created a Thyroid Nodule and Cancer Guide app to help, you can to better understand your thyroid nodule, determine what you next steps are, and examine your risk of thyroid cancer.

Watch a video at

Read Also: Thyro-tabs For Dogs Side Effects

But What If Its Thyroid Cancer

A cancer diagnosis is always worrisome, but even if a nodule turns out to be thyroid cancer, you still have plenty of reasons to be hopeful.

Thyroid cancer is one of the most treatable kinds of cancer. Surgery to remove the gland typically addresses the problem, and recurrences or spread of the cancer cells are both uncommon. People who undergo thyroid gland surgery may need to take thyroid hormone afterward to keep their body chemistry in balance.

Whether its benign or not, a bothersome thyroid nodule can often be successfully managed. Choosing an experienced specialist can mean more options to help personalize your treatment and achieve better results.

Can A Breast Biopsy Tell What Stage Cancer You Have

How to Shrink Thyroid Nodules

During a biopsy, a doctor removes small pieces of breast tissue from the suspicious area so they can be looked at in the lab to see if they contain cancer cells. Needing a breast biopsy doesnt necessarily mean you have cancer. Most biopsy results are not cancer, but a biopsy is the only way to find out for sure.

Also Check: Stop The Thyroid Madness Com

What Happens If You Have A Cancerous Thyroid Nodule

Thyroid Cancers. Five to 10 percent of thyroid nodules are malignant, or cancerous, although most cause no symptoms. Rarely, they may cause neck swelling, pain, swallowing problems, shortness of breath, or changes in the sound of your voice as they grow.

Thyroid Nodules And Treatment: Get The Facts

For many patients, being told they have athyroid nodule instantly raises red flags. DoI have cancer? Will I need surgery? Should I be worried?

The answer to these questions is usually, butnot always, no. Thyroid nodules are lumps that form within your thyroid, abutterfly shaped gland located at the base of your neck. Nodules can be solidor contain a variable amount of fluid. If they are completely fluid-filled,they are called thyroid cysts.

Thyroid nodules are more common in womencompared to men and more likely to occur as you get older. The exact reason whysome people get thyroid nodules and others dont is not known, but nodules tendto run in families.

Most thyroid nodules are benign and cause no problems if left untreated. However, approximately 5 to 10 percent of thyroid nodules are cancerous but even then, a patient might not need surgery right away because most thyroid cancers grow slowly.

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid nodule, the first step is to see an endocrinologist a doctor who specializes in conditions of the endocrine glands, such as the thyroid.

Most thyroid nodules are benign and cause no problems if left untreated. However, approximately 5 to 10 percent of thyroid nodules are cancerous but even then, a patient might not need surgery right away because most thyroid cancers grow slowly.

Iram Hussain, M.D.

Also Check: Can Thyroid Eye Disease Affect One Eye

What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Nodules

Changes in the thyroid may be seen or felt, but most thyroid nodules dont cause symptoms. They are often discovered during a routine physical exam or via medical imaging, like ultrasound or computed tomography exams, performed for unrelated reasons. Sometimes the tissue in a nodule makes too much of the thyroid hormones causing hyperthyroidism, which can be seen by performing a thyroid-stimulating hormone blood test. However, most thyroid nodules, including those that are cancerous, are actually non-functioning, meaning tests like TSH are normal.

Its important to see your doctor if you have:

  • Swelling or a lump in the neck.
  • Hoarseness or other voice changes.
  • Difficulty swallowing or persistent sore throat.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Pain in the front of the neck
  • A persistent cough.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Thyroid Nodule

Molecular Markers for Thyroid Cancer – Masha Livhits, MD & Michael Yeh, MD | UCLAMDChat

Most thyroid nodules do not cause symptoms. Often, thyroid nodules are discovered incidentally during a routine physical examination or on imaging tests like CT scans or neck ultrasound done for completely unrelated reasons. Occasionally, patients themselves find thyroid nodules by noticing a lump in their neck while looking in a mirror, buttoning their collar, or fastening a necklace. Abnormal thyroid function tests may occasionally be the reason a thyroid nodule is found. Thyroid nodules may produce excess amounts of thyroid hormone causing hyperthyroidism . However, most thyroid nodules, including those that cancerous, are actually non-functioning, meaning tests like TSH are normal. Rarely, patients with thyroid nodules may complain of pain in the neck, jaw, or ear. If a nodule is large enough to compress the windpipe or esophagus, it may cause difficulty with breathing, swallowing, or cause a tickle in the throat. Even less commonly, hoarseness can be caused if the nodule invades the nerve that controls the vocal cords but this is usually related to thyroid cancer.

The important points to remember are the following:

  • Thyroid nodules generally do not cause symptoms.
  • Thyroid tests are most typically normaleven when cancer is present in a nodule.
  • The best way to find a thyroid nodule is to make sure your doctor checks your neck!

Read Also: What Are The 5 Thyroid Tests

Is A 2 Cm Thyroid Nodule Big

The risk of cancer increased to 15% of nodules greater than 2 cm. In nodules that were larger than this 2 cm threshold, the cancer risk was unchanged. However, the proportion of rarer types of thyroid cancer such as follicular and Hurthle cell cancer did progressively increase with . increasing nodule size.

How Are Thyroid Nodules Diagnosed

Fine Needle Biopsy

A thyroid fine needle biopsy is a simple procedure that can be performed in the physicians office. Some physicians numb the skin over the nodule prior to the biopsy, but it is not necessary to be put to sleep, and patients can usually return to work or home afterward with no ill effects.

This test provides information that no other test can offer short of surgery. A thyroid needle biopsy will provide sufficient information on which to base a treatment decision more than 85 percent of the time if an ultrasound is used.

Use of fine needle biopsy has drastically reduced the number of patients who have undergone unnecessary operations for benign nodules. However, about 10-20 percent of biopsy specimens are interpreted as inconclusive or inadequate, that is, the pathologist cannot be certain whether the nodule is cancerous or benign.

In such cases, a physician who is experienced with thyroid disease can use other criteria to make a decision about whether to operate.

Thyroid Scan

A thyroid scan is a picture of the thyroid gland taken after a small dose of a radioactive isotope normally concentrated by thyroid cells has been injected or swallowed. The scan tells whether the nodule is hyperfunctioning . Because cancer is rarely found in hot nodules, a scan showing a hot nodule eliminates the need for fine needle biopsy. If a hot nodule causes hyperthyroidism, it can be treated with radioiodine or surgery.


Don’t Miss: How Do I Get My Thyroid Tested

Genetic Testing Of Thyroid Nodules: Veracyte / Afirma Asuragen And Thyroseq

There are three commercially available genetic testing companies for thyroid nodules: Veracyte , Asuragen, and Thyroseq. They are similar, but each has some unique advantages. Typically your doctor will send your FNA biopsy specimen to just one of these three. Here are some specifics about the genetic thyroid tests:

  • The Veracyte / Afirma test has the best ability to tell whether the FNA cytology is benign. This is called a ârule outâ test. It is really good at seeing if a thyroid nodule is benign. If this test tells you the needle biopsy is benign, then the possibility of it actually being a cancer is less than 4%.
  • Both Asuragen and Thyroseq are ârule inâ tests. This means that they look for genetic abnormalities known to be associated with a diagnosis of thyroid cancers. Finding these particular genetic changes makes a diagnosis of thyroid cancer much more likely, and in some circumstances may also play a role in determining the best surgery for the cancer.

Thyroid Nodule Biopsy: Cancer Of Thyroid Nodules Is Diagnosed By Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy

Thyroid Nodule
  • FNA is an abbreviation for Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy. This is a common test performed thousands of times per day on people with thyroid nodules.
  • FNA is a type of biopsy. A biopsy is the removal of some cells from the body so they can be looked at under a microscope to see if the cells are cancerous.
  • The only purpose of a FNA biopsy is to get cells from the thyroid to look at under a microscope. If not enough cells are removed, the test is worthless or not diagnostic .
  • Thus, FNA is used to diagnose thyroid cancer in a patient with a thyroid nodule that is suspicious for cancer .
  • FNA biopsy can also be done on lymph nodes in the neck which are around the thyroid to see if there are any thyroid cancer cells inside the lymph nodes.
  • Ultrasound allows the doctors to see the thyroid nodule or lymph node during the needle biopsy, which helps make sure they are getting the needle stuck into the right areas.
  • FNA biopsy is the same as: needle biopsy of thyroid, FNA needle biopsy, FNA of thyroid, etc. They are all the same thing so don’t be confused.
  • Recommended Reading: What Are Some Thyroid Medications

    Can A Benign Thyroid Tumor Become Malignant

    Nodules that start as benign rarely turn cancerous. However, your endocrinologist will likely perform occasional biopsies to rule out the possibility. If your nodule is hot, or overproducing thyroid hormones, your endocrinologist will probably use radioactive iodine or surgery to eliminate the nodule.

    What Size Is A Cancerous Nodule

    They appear as round, white shadows on a chest X-ray or computerized tomography scan. Lung nodules are usually about 0.2 inch to 1.2 inches in size. A larger lung nodule, such as one thats 30 millimeters or larger, is more likely to be cancerous than is a smaller lung nodule.

    Read Also: Thyroid Eye Disease After Thyroidectomy

    What Gets Stored In A Cookie

    This site stores nothing other than an automatically generated session ID in the cookie no other information is captured.

    In general, only the information that you provide, or the choices you make while visiting a web site, can be stored in a cookie. For example, the site cannot determine your email name unless you choose to type it. Allowing a website to create a cookie does not give that or any other site access to the rest of your computer, and only the site that created the cookie can read it.

    Comparison Of Clinical And Us Features Of Isolated Macrocalcifications Between Benign And Malignant Nodules

    Thyroid Nodules: Causes, Symptoms & Treatments | Dr. Kannan

    Table 3 demonstrates the clinical and US features of isolated macrocalcifications in benign and malignant nodules. Age and sex were not significantly associated with malignancy in isolated macrocalcifications with final diagnoses . The location of isolated macrocalcification, presence of other nodules, and US features including focal disruption of calcification at the anterior margin and lobulated contour of the anterior margin were not significantly associated with malignancy . In the five patients who underwent computed tomography of the neck, the nodules with isolated macrocalcifications correlated with coarse calcified nodules on CT images .

    71-year-old woman with invasive encapsulated follicular variant papillary carcinoma.

    A. US image shows calcified nodule with posterior shadowing and smooth anterior margin in mid-right thyroid lobe. B. Unenhanced CT image shows densely calcified nodule in right thyroid lobe. C. US image shows 15-mm suspicious hyperechoic metastatic lymph node with macrocalcification at level IV of right lateral neck. D. Well-circumscribed and encapsulated lesion shows follicular-patterned tumor cells mixed predominantly with dystrophic calcifications and focal ossification . TNM stage was T1bN1bM0, and there was minor extrathyroidal extension of tumor. Cancer was postoperatively classified as American Thyroid Association intermediate risk. AJCC = American Joint Committee on Cancer, US = ultrasonography, TNM = tumor, node, metastasis

    Also Check: How To Stop Thyroid Medication

    What Will The Biopsy Tell Us

    A biopsy may demonstrate one of FIVE possible outcomes: the biopsy may be non-diagnostic, benign, indeterminate, suspicious, or malignant.

    • Non-diagnostic: Non-diagnostic is a technically failed biopsy. This occurs when not enough cells taken during a biopsy so the cytologist was not able to determine anything. These usually need to be repeated.
    • Benign: Most thyroid nodule biopsies come back benign. This suggest that the nodule is not cancerous. Patients can almost always avoid surgery with a benign diagnosis unless the nodule is large and pushing on adjacent structures, or the nodule is growing.
    • Indeterminate: Indeterminate means there was enough cells taken during the biopsy, but the cytopathologist was not sure if it is benign or malignant. Indeterminate results occur in about 30% of thyroid biopsies. This is a gray zone and means that the risk of cancer is about 10-30%. These nodules require additional work-up such as a repeat biopsy, molecular marker test, or surgical removal. In some cases, we recommend molecular profiling for indeterminate biopsies.
    • Suspicious for Malignancy or Malignant: Results categorized in these two categories are a strong indicator that there is cancer present and usually require surgical removal.

    Us Examination And Image Analysis

    All US examinations were performed using a 5- to 12-MHz linear-array transducer and a real-time US system . One experienced radiologist with 21 years of experience in performing thyroid US and interventional procedures retrospectively reviewed all US images of the 3061 patients with nodules 1 cm. The reviewer, who was blinded to the cytopathologic biopsy diagnoses and final diagnoses, retrospectively assessed the presence of isolated macrocalcifications in all 3852 nodules. An isolated macrocalcification was defined as a calcified nodule with complete posterior acoustic shadowing and no identified soft tissue component within the calcified nodule. The reviewer retrospectively assessed the US features of isolated macrocalcifications including the size, location, presence of other thyroid nodules, and presence of focal disruption or lobulated contour at the anterior margin of a calcified nodule.

    Also Check: How Do You Check Thyroid

    Don’t Miss: What To Expect After Thyroid Cancer Surgery

    What To Expect During A Thyroid Biopsy

    What to expect during a thyroid biopsy will depend on which thyroid biopsy technique your doctor has chosen for you. Although most patients receive a fine needle aspiration biopsy, your doctor may also order a core needle biopsy or surgical biopsy.

    Fine needle aspiration

    A fine needle aspiration is a type of thyroid biopsy that is performed while you are awake. Most patients do not need any anesthesia during this procedure. During the test, your doctor will use imaging guidance to thread a small needle into your neck and remove a sample of thyroid tissue for testing. Your doctor may remove several samples from various areas of the thyroid, nodule or the lymph nodes near the thyroid. The procedure is performed in a clinic setting and lasts approximately 30 minutes. You will be able to resume your daily activities after leaving the clinic.

    Core needle biopsy

    A core needle biopsy is similar to a fine needle aspiration but involves using a larger needle. It may be performed if the fine needle aspiration does not produce enough information to make an accurate diagnosis.

    Surgical biopsy

    Rarely, a surgical biopsy on the thyroid is necessary. During a surgical biopsy, your surgeon will cut an incision in the neck to remove the nodule. In some cases, you may need to remove part of the entire thyroid.

    Latest news
    Related news