Return to Index
Screening for Thyroid Cancer
The purpose of screening is to find a cancer early. This will allow early treatment and better outcomes. Screening tests are given to people who do not have any symptoms but may have a risk of the disease.
There are no standard tests or current guidelines for thyroid cancer screening. However, if you have a family history of medullary thyroid cancer or certain genetic mutations, your doctor will want to discuss them with you to reduce your risk.
If you are at a high risk, your doctor may do:
- Genetic tests to look for specific mutations
- Periodic blood and urine tests to monitor for hyperparathyroidism or pheochromocytoma
- Neck ultrasound
A specific gene mutation (RET) increases the risk of medullary thyroid cancer. A counselor will help to understand what it means to have this gene. Not everyone with RET will get cancer. However, some will choose to have their thyroid removed. This will prevent thyroid cancer, but you will also need pills for the rest of your life.
Anaplastic thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114292/Anaplastic-thyroid-cancer. Updated June 29, 2018. Accessed December 8, 2018.
Follicular thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115204/Follicular-thyroid-cancer. Updated June 27, 2017. Accessed December 8, 2018.
General information about thyroid cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/thyroid/patient/thyroid-treatment-pdq. Updated August 18, 2017. Accessed December 8, 2018.
Medullary thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T113756/Medullary-thyroid-cancer. Updated June 29, 2018. Accessed December 8, 2018.
Papillary thyroid cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115275/Papillary-thyroid-cancer. Updated August 15, 2018. Accessed December 8, 2018.
Thyroid cancer risk factors. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/thyroid-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html. Updated February 9, 2017. Accessed December 8, 2018.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
- Review Date: 09/2018
- Update Date: 12/18/2020