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Papillary thyroid cancer – the most common form of thyroid cancer – is often found by accident through imaging studies or physical examination performed for unrelated reasons. Typically, this type of cancer does not produce obvious symptoms, but some individuals may notice a lump (nodule) at the base of their neck, neck tenderness or subtle vocal changes. 

Identifying papillary thyroid cancer

If a physician suspects that a patient has thyroid cancer, the diagnostic process often begins with ultrasound imaging or fine needle aspiration (FNA) biospy. This minor procedure involves using imaging techniques to pinpoint the area of concern and inserting a very thin needle to draw out a small amount of cells. The sample is then viewed under a microscope to determine if the cells appear benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). FNA biopsy does not involve large incisions and can be performed on an outpatient basis in a physician’s office.

Further tests may be ordered if an FNA result is not clear. A physician may recommend a lobectomy – a surgery to remove a portion of the thyroid. Additional imaging tests such as computed tomography (CT) scans may also be performed.

If you are experiencing potential symptoms of papillary thyroid cancer or would like to consult an oncologist about your risks, consider visiting Moffitt Cancer Center’s Thyroid Clinic. We welcome individuals with or without referrals and provide all of our services in a single, convenient location.

To take the first step toward visiting Moffitt, call 1-888-663-3488 or complete a new patient registration form online.