Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Biopsy for thyroid cancer

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.

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. 

Some biopsies are performed endoscopically, others under image guidance, such as ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the radiology suite. In some cases, biopsies are performed in the operating suite. This allows your doctor to collect tissue from deep inside the body. Depending on the type of biopsy performed, you may receive an anesthetic to reduce discomfort.

Biopsies provide tissue samples for diagnosis and may help determine whether the cancer began at the site of the biopsy sample, or if it started somewhere else in the body.

Some sites that are commonly biopsied include the breast, skin, bone marrow, GI tract, lung, liver, bladder, colon and lymph nodes. Our doctors determine the appropriate method of biopsy based on several factors, such as the size, shape, location, and characteristics of the abnormality.

Biopsy medical animation