Before surgery, you may need to have a biopsy, which is usually done in your doctor’s rooms or clinic. Your doctor may use ultrasound guidance to locate the tissue. Then your doctor inserts a fine needle into the tissue and takes samples, which are sent to a lab where a pathologist looks at them under a microscope. In more than 90% of cases the tissue is benign (not cancer). You should get the results within a week.
Tests and imaging
Before surgery you may need to have some blood tests, including thyroid function tests. Your doctor may also want to check the function of your vocal cords, especially if you’ve had persistent hoarseness, previous neck surgery or they think your cancer may have spread.
If you have heart disease, or risk factors for heart disease, you may also have tests for your heart before surgery. You might have an ECG when you’re admitted to hospital, especially if you’re aged 50+.
The results of these tests can help determine the best and safest procedure for you. If any issues are raised by your tests or imaging, your surgeon may have to postpone or cancel your surgery.
Your surgeon may prescribe medication to take before surgery, depending on your condition. You may need to stop taking certain medications (especially blood thinners).
If you smoke or drink alcohol, ask your surgeon whether you should stop before your surgery. If you smoke, quitting even for a few weeks beforehand will reduce your risk of complications.
Don’t forget to mention any complementary or herbal remedies you’re taking.