Diagnosis

Some of the following tests may be done depending on your particular case.

  • Thyroid Function Tests: A blood test to see how your thyroid functions. Your level of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is checked.
  • Ultrasound: Harmless sound waves are aimed at the thyroid gland. This is a painless and convenient way to get a picture of the thyroid. It is often used to guide a biopsy.
  • Biopsy: The best way to determine if a nodule is cancer is to do a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNA) of the nodule. The skin is prepared and numbed and a needle is inserted into the nodule. Cells from the nodule are removed and examined.
  • Cytology: The FNA biopsy specimen is read by the cytopathologist. Thyroid cytology is classified into one of six categories according to the risk of cancer.
  • Molecular Testing: At the University of Colorado Hospital, doctors in our Thyroid Tumor Program have developed two types of molecular tests to reduce unnecessary operations and decrease the chance that a patient with thyroid cancer will need a second operation.
  • Thyroid Uptake and Scan: A small amount of radioactive iodine solution is ingested. The radioactive material is taken up by the thyroid, allowing a scanner to take pictures of the thyroid. This test also determines if the thyroid is overactive, normal, or underactive. It is most commonly used in evaluation of patients with hyperthyroidism.

Thyroid Ultrasound

An ultrasound is one test that can give your doctor information about your thyroid gland. Ultrasounds are also commonly used to guide biopsies.


This information is provided by the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. It is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition.