Biopsy to check for thyroid cancer in lymph node

Lymph node biopsy incision sites
Lymph node biopsy incision sites

There are benign-appearing lymph nodes within the right neck. Within the inferior left neck is a 3 x 3 x 2 mm hypoechoic nodule. Previously, it measured 4 x 3 x 3 mm in size. Within the superior left neck adjacent to the submandibular gland is a 2.4 x 0.9 x 1.0 cm lymph node. It does not demonstrate an internal echogenic fatty hilum though is ovoid in appearance. It compares with 2.1 x 0.7 x 1.0 cm in size.

Nervous. That’s how I feel. I was hoping that I would be done with this thyroid cancer stuff. I thought that after the radiation iodine treatment and body scan, no more cancer could possibly be in my body. But after the last ultrasound came a phone call from one of my doctors to tell me that a lymph node has been growing. Because of that, I needed to have a biopsy done.

Arriving in the ultrasound room, I stayed in my clothes and laid on the bed. The ultrasound tech stomped on the foot lever several times to raise the bed so that she could find the spot to biopsy. (Why the hell she couldn’t have raised the table earlier, I have no idea). She pressed that ultrasound wand hard into my throat. (I don’t think this woman had any bedside manner). She found the growing lymph node and called in the doctor and the gal who brought in the glass slides for the cells.

Unlike the last biopsy where six needles gathered the cells, this time the doctor injected some muscle numbing agent. He went in deep and jabbed it around many times. That hurt. He did that with two different needles.

He waited for a minute or two for the numbing stuff to take affect and then dove in with the other needles to collect the cells from the lymph node. Although the numbing stuff was working, he went deep so there still was pain and pressure. I swallowed a couple of times; I guess you’re not supposed to swallow, but that’s hard to avoid when someone’s pressing on your throat like that.

Once he was done and the cells were on the glass slides, he and the slide gal left to make sure that the doctor had collected enough cells. If he didn’t, he’d be back to jab me again.

After five minutes or so, he was back to tell me that they collected enough. Thank goodness. I quickly gathered my jacket and things and took off as fast as I could go. I didn’t even stay long enough to ask when I would have the results. I figured that I’d have them in a week anyway.

I’m hoping for non-cancer, of course. I’ll keep you updated with the results. I’ll celebrate with cheesecake, if it’s not cancer. If it is, I’m having a beer.

Oh, and I think that I’m going to be sore for a couple of days from the harshness of the ultrasound wand and all the needles. On the way home, I stopped at a grocery store and picked up a bag of dark chocolate Reese mini’s. After that adventure, I deserved these yum-yums.





Hi, I have thyroid cancer.

Kat showing off thyroid cancer surgical tape
Kat showing off thyroid cancer surgical tape

Single left inferior thyroid lobe nodule measuring 2.8 x 1.6 x
2.2 cm. This demonstrates indeterminant features. Given size, recommend fine-needle aspiration to exclude underlying malignancy.

Hi, I have thyroid cancer. Right now, that’s how it feels to identify myself at this time. I could say, Hi, my name is Katherine. But for right now, it seems that my thyroid cancer is a bigger part of my life than I would like it to be.

I’m going to start from the middle and then go to the beginning. This may seem kind of an odd way to start, but let me explain why. My thyroid cancer adventure actually started late 2015, and I thought that after my thyroid removal, I was done, except for my twice a year check-up. But last week or so, during my ultrasound check-up, they found that one of my lymph nodes has been growing. I have a biopsy scheduled near the end of this month. I’m preparing myself mentally that it is probably cancer again and that I will have to have it removed. The good news is that my original scar is still showing, so the surgeon won’t need to spend any time wondering the best way to cut me open.

I should warn you that my humor is a little dark.

But now let’s start at the beginning, as you might have been just diagnosed with thyroid cancer yourself and may be a bit scared. I’m here to share my own experience with thyroid cancer, in case this helps someone feel like they aren’t alone. (Or realize that they might have it better than me. There’s always hope, right?)

As you’ll soon find out, thyroid cancer is very common in women. Especially those who’ve had children. Yes, childbirth can do a bit more damage than stretch marks. Luckily, because this form of cancer is common, the removal is quicker than most and has an extremely high life expediency, even if your thyroid cancer should be marked as stage four. So, yay?

Still, if anyone tells you that you’re lucky to have such an easy cancer, feel free to punch them in the throat. Okay, don’t really do it. Just imagine it. Any form of cancer sucks, and who wants to lose a piece of their body? (For those body mutilator folks out there, don’t answer that question).

So, you might be wondering, Katherine, you’re blathering on. I don’t care about that. What I want to know is, how did you know that you had thyroid cancer?

Great question! My answer is very important. I think that I’ve had it for at least 5-10 years before I actually knew that I had it. For the past several years, when I’d go for my annual physicals or when I was not feeling well, the doctor would feel my neck and then asked if I had a cold. I’d say yes, or no, but I have allergies, and then the doctor might say, “your lymph node(s) are swollen probably due to that.” They continued on with whatever they were looking for, but they didn’t bother putting that in my chart. I think that if there was repeated “swollen lymph nodes” written in my chart, you would think that a doctor would think that something was wrong?

It took a student dentist at an university to tell me, “I hate to tell you this, but I think that you have cancer. You should see a doctor.”

I laughed, but made an appointment to see a doctor about the possible cancer. When he saw me, he told me that I probably have a cold or an allergic reaction and that I was fine. I didn’t press the issue, but the thought stuck with me.

Then, in 2015, I was in a bad car accident, where I had to have a MRI done. There, in the x-ray, was proof that I had thyroid cancer. Often times, this is how thyroid cancer is found. For many people, there aren’t any noticeable symptoms.

Did I have any symptoms that I could share with you? For me, I had difficulty swallowing waffles. Maybe a little difficulty breathing – just a bit. I was to find out why later.

After the MRI, I was told to talk with my family doctor who could then give me a referral for an ultrasound on my thyroid. After this, the next step was a biopsy of six needle jabs. Don’t feel bad if you can only allow them two or so. These are painful, in my opinion, and some people refuse to do it once they hear the procedure. Don’t be foolish like them. The biopsy needs to be done. If you cry, don’t worry. Most people do. They have tissues there for a reason.

My biopsy report results – “POSITIVE FOR MALIGNANCY¬†Papillary carcinoma.” The Papillary carcinoma part is sometimes known as “papillary thyroid carcinoma” and just means common thyroid cancer.

If you’re reading this from googling your test results, your biopsy confirmed thyroid cancer. Fuck.

I’ll continue on in the next post. (It’s too close to my bedtime).