If you have recently been diagnosed with a thyroid nodule, learning all that you can will help you and your doctor make more informed decisions about what to do next.
Get the whole picture with molecular testing
Doctors now have better options to assess indeterminate thyroid nodules using molecular testing. Your doctor can request that the sample of your cells taken with a fine needle aspiration (FNA) be tested with ThyGenX® and ThyraMIR™ oncogene panels, which are highly sophisticated tests that detect genetic abnormalities within your thyroid nodule.
When used together, these advanced tests are helpful in providing the most accurate information about the risk of an indeterminate thyroid nodule developing cancer, so you and your doctor can determine the best course of action for you. For this reason, molecular testing can help you avoid surgery and the anxiety and costs that go along with it.
What is a thyroid nodule?
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck. The thyroid gland plays an important role in the body, releasing hormones that help the body use energy; stay warm; and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working properly.
Nodules are abnormal growths of cells that form a lump in the thyroid gland.
They are extremely common, although why they occur is unknown. Fortunately, most thyroid nodules are harmless and not cancerous—more than 90% of thyroid nodules are benign (not cancerous).
Thyroid cancer is a disease involving thyroid cells that reproduce and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant (cancerous) tumors that invade nearby parts of the thyroid gland and can spread into adjacent tissues and lymph nodes. Most cases of thyroid cancer can be cured with surgical and therapeutic treatments.
How do you determine if a thyroid nodule is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous)?
A thyroid fine needle aspiration (FNA), also known as a biopsy, is often used to help determine a diagnosis. The FNA procedure is simple and usually is performed in the doctor’s office or ultrasound department of a hospital. The cells from the biopsy are sent to a lab to be tested by a pathologist, a doctor who specializes in diagnosing diseases by viewing cells under a microscope. In most cases, a pathologist will be able to tell if the nodule is benign or malignant. In some cases, however, the pathologist is unable to make a diagnosis because the cells removed during the FNA procedure were not clearly benign or malignant. This is known as an indeterminate or inconclusive result, which occurs in about 35% of the thyroid biopsies performed.