Thyroid Cancer

Thyroid Cancer Diagnosis

If signs and symptoms suggest that a patient has 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, and we offer expertise that few other institutions can match. 

Endocrinologists Iram Hussain, M.D., ECNU, Alex Tessnow, M.D., ECNU, and Jeffrey Zigman, M.D., Ph.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

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

If a thyroid nodule exhibits certain suspicious features on ultrasound, we might recommend a biopsy, a procedure during which thin needles are used to take tiny tissue samples of the nodule. We save two samples: one to be examined under a microscope and, if that leads to uncertain results, one to be sent for more refined molecular diagnostic evaluation. 

We will also answer any questions patients have about the new diagnosis. A diagnosis of thyroid cancer can be overwhelming, but we are here for support. 

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 the 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 be done in the doctor’s office or clinic. It provides tissue that pathologists, working with the patient’s care providers, can evaluate to diagnose diseases, inform treatments, and provide important medical information.
  • Blood tests: These tests can show whether the thyroid gland is overproducing thyroid hormone, 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 might be ordered to help determine whether one of the nodules is the source of the excess thyroid hormone.
  • Molecular diagnostic test: If the 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 thyroid cancer, our team will discuss treatment options and make sure that patients fully understand their treatment plan.