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17

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Thyroid Cancer, Version 1.2017

Imaging tests

Imaging tests are used to take pictures (images)

of the inside of your body. Your doctor will want to

check the thyroid and central neck area. Imaging

can be used to see if there is cancer in the body.

These tests can see if the cancer is in more than

one area. Imaging tests may also be done during or

after treatment to see how the body is responding.

Ultrasound is the most common imaging test used

for thyroid cancer.

See Guide 3.

An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to

take pictures of the inside of the body. During this

test, you will be asked to lie on a table or sit in a

chair. A hand-held device will be used called an

ultrasound probe. A gel will be put on the skin. The

probe will then be moved back and forth over the

skin. It will send sound waves to tissues and organs.

Echoes will bounce off the tissues and organs, and

this

is what will form pictures on the screen.

Guide 3. Imaging tests

Imaging test

What is your doctor checking?

Ultrasound-

high-energy sound waves to make

pictures.

• Your thyroid, neck, and lymph nodes in that area

Radioiodine scan (also known as RAI imaging or

131I imaging)-

radiotracer allows a camera to detect if

the thyroid or thyroid cancer cells in the body take up

radioiodine.

• Your thyroid

• Your whole body after thyroid surgery to see if any

thyroid cancer cells remain

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan-

radio

waves and strong magnets to make detailed pictures.

• Your neck or other areas of the body like the liver

CT (computed tomography) scan-

x-rays are done to

take pictures from many angles.

• Your neck

• Your chest, abdomen, and pelvis

◦◦ You can get dye (contrast material) for this type

of scan

PET (positron emission tomography) scan-

a tracer

detects disease and takes 3-D pictures.

• How your body is working

• Can be combined with CT scan for more detailed

images

These pictures will allow your doctors to assess the

size, shape, contents, and place of a nodule. An

ultrasound of the thyroid and neck is not painful. It

usually takes 10 to 30 minutes to complete. A health

professional or your doctor will do the test and review

the results.

Although ultrasound is the most common imaging

test, CT scan, PET (

p

ositron

e

mission

t

omography)

scan, and MRI (

m

agnetic

r

esonance

i

maging)

are imaging tests that might be done in certain

situations. A PET/CT (

p

ositron

e

mission

t

omography/

c

omputed

t

omography) with a radiotracer called

FDG (18F-

f

luoro

d

eoxy

g

lucose) is a recommended

imaging test for more aggressive thyroid cancers

such as poorly differentiated cancer or anaplastic

thyroid cancer. FDG is made of fluoride and sugar

(glucose). Cancer cells use more FDG than normal

cells, so they show up as bright spots on the PET

scan pictures.

See Guide 3.

2

Testing

Imaging tests