What is included in the physical exam of suspected thyroid cancer?

Updated: May 14, 2020
  • Author: Pramod K Sharma, MD; Chief Editor: Arlen D Meyers, MD, MBA  more...
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The key to the workup of the solitary thyroid nodule is to differentiate malignant from benign disease and, thus, to determine which patients require intervention and which patients may be monitored serially. History taking, physical examination, laboratory evaluation, and fine-needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) are the mainstays in the evaluation of thyroid nodules. Imaging studies can be adjuncts in select cases.

Examination in patients suspected of thyroid cancer includes the following:

  • Thorough head and neck examination, including thyroid gland and cervical soft tissues

  • Indirect laryngoscopy

Firm cervical masses are highly suggestive of regional lymph node metastases. Vocal fold paralysis implies involvement of the recurrent laryngeal nerve.

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