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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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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