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Biopsy for thyroid cancer

What is a biopsy?

During a biopsy, a doctor removes a sample of tissue or fluid from the body. A pathologist inspects the cells under a microscope to see if they are cancerous. If the cells are found to be cancerous, a biopsy can help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy, or if it started somewhere else in the body and spread to the biopsy site.

Some biopsies are performed under image guidance, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This allows your doctor to collect cells from deeper inside the body. Depending on the type of biopsy performed, you will receive an anesthetic to minimize any pain.

Biopsy medical animation

Video: Biopsy Medical Animation

Medical animation

Biopsy for thyroid cancer

A sample of throat tissue or cells is required for a biopsy, which must be conducted before treatment can begin. The types of biopsies typically used for diagnosing head and neck cancers are:

  • Incisional biopsy: A small piece of tissue is cut from an abnormal-looking area. Because the larynx is deep inside the neck, removing samples involves a complex procedure. Therefore, biopsies of this region are usually done in an operating room, with general anesthesia administered to prevent any pain.
  • Fine needle aspiration (FNA): Here, a very thin needle attached to a syringe is used to extract (aspirate) cells from a tumor or lump. This approach can be particularly useful for several situations that can occur with laryngeal cancer.
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