Doctors performs thyroid nodule biopsies to reveal whether or not thyroid nodules are cancerous, according to the American Thyroid Association. Physicians typically perform the procedures in their offices, using local anesthetics and tiny needles to withdraw cells from various areas of the nodules.
About 80 percent of biopsies produce noncancerous diagnoses, explains the ATA. About 5 percent of biopsies produce a cancer diagnosis, typically due to a common form of thyroid cancer called papillary cancer. Surgeons remove nodules that are cancerous or suspected as cancerous. When a biopsy report is indeterminate, in up to approximately 20 percent of biopsies, doctors use thyroid surgery to reveal whether cancer is present and remove it. Nondiagnostic or inadequate reports occur in less than 5 percent of biopsies, usually when the growth is a cyst or there are not enough cells for a finding.