Which physical findings are characteristic of papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC)?

Updated: Jun 18, 2020
  • Author: Ponnandai S Somasundar, MD, MPH, FACS; Chief Editor: Neetu Radhakrishnan, MD  more...
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Answer

The clinician should palpate the patient's neck to evaluate the size and firmness of the thyroid and to check for any thyroid nodules. The principal sign of thyroid carcinoma is a palpable nodule, usually solitary, in the thyroid area that has the following characteristics:

  • Painless

  • Hard consistency

  • Average size of less than 5 cm

  • Ill-defined borders

  • Fixed in respect to surrounding tissues

  • Moves with the trachea at swallowing

If cervical lymphadenopathy is present, it may be palpable on either the ipsilateral or contralateral side.

Some patients have a tight or full feeling in the neck, hoarseness, or signs of tracheal or esophageal compression.


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