Ultrasound can’t confirm a diagnosis of anaplastic thyroid cancer, but it can provide information about the size of the thyroid tumor and whether it has spread. Doctors can use this information for treatment planning.

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Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer. It is more aggressive and grows much more quickly than other types of thyroid cancer. This means prompt diagnosis and treatment are especially important. Ultrasound plays a key role in anaplastic thyroid cancer diagnosis and treatment planning.

Although this imaging test can’t confirm a diagnosis, it can help doctors see the size and spread of the tumor. This information is vital to the diagnostic process, and doctors can use it to start planning treatment. Healthcare professionals can perform a fine needle aspiration biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of anaplastic thyroid cancer.

Learn more about anaplastic thyroid cancer.

An ultrasound of your neck is often part of the diagnostic process for anaplastic thyroid cancer. The ultrasound can give your doctor an up-close look at your thyroid to see any tumor growth. This can help them determine the diagnosis.

You might also have other imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI, so your doctor has the clearest and most detailed possible images of your thyroid and the surrounding area.

However, imaging isn’t enough to diagnose anaplastic thyroid cancer. You’ll need a test called a fine needle aspiration biopsy. For this test, a healthcare professional will take samples of tumor tissue with a needle, and those samples will be tested for cancer in a lab.

Ultrasound alone can’t diagnose thyroid cancer, but it can help doctors rule out other conditions that could be causing symptoms such as hoarseness.

Additionally, an ultrasound will let doctors see the tumor’s size and whether it has begun to spread to other parts of your neck. This information is vital for planning your treatment.

An ultrasound for anaplastic thyroid cancer is a diagnostic ultrasound. It is performed with a transducer probe and will take about half an hour. Typically, thyroid ultrasounds are painless. A technician will do the ultrasound while you lie on a cushioned table.

You’ll be dressed in a hospital gown, and the technician will apply a specialized gel to the skin of your throat. They’ll move the transducer probe slowly over the area to create images of your thyroid. Once they have obtained enough images, the ultrasound will be complete.

You’ll be able to go home as soon as the test is finished.

You typically won’t need to take any steps to prepare for an ultrasound for anaplastic thyroid cancer. It’s an outpatient test and is generally fast and painless.

You won’t receive anesthesia or any incisions. But, in some cases, you may need to avoid certain medications or food in the morning before the ultrasound. If this applies to you, your doctor will let you know.

One of the most notable symptoms of anaplastic thyroid cancer is a lump that is visible in your neck. This lump can grow quickly and is sometimes very noticeable, prompting a medical appointment. Additional symptoms of anaplastic thyroid cancer include:

The exact outlook for anaplastic thyroid cancer depends on multiple factors, including:

  • tumor size
  • tumor location
  • stage at diagnosis
  • response to treatment
  • age
  • genetics

Typically, anaplastic thyroid cancer is a fast-growing cancer that can be difficult to diagnose early and challenging to treat.

According to the American Cancer Society, anaplastic thyroid cancer had an overall 5-year survival rate of 8% between 2013 and 2018. When diagnosed early, anaplastic thyroid cancer had a 5-year survival rate of 39% in that same time period.

However, it’s important to recognize that these numbers might not reflect current survival statistics. Data for survival statistics are always historical, and cancer treatments are constantly improving. People with many types of cancer may now have a better survival outlook than they did in 2018. Your doctor can help you understand your treatment outlook.

Anaplastic thyroid cancer is a fast-growing form of thyroid cancer that can be difficult to treat. Early and accurate diagnosis is important. An ultrasound is one test you’ll undergo during the diagnostic process for anaplastic thyroid cancer. This imaging test will give doctors the information they need about the size and spread of the thyroid tumor.

Ultrasound is quick and painless. It’s an outpatient procedure, and you typically won’t need to do anything to prepare. Ultrasound cannot confirm a diagnosis of anaplastic thyroid cancer, but this noninvasive imaging test is an important part of the diagnostic process.