A study to look at a possible new way to diagnose cancer of the thyroid

Cancer type:

Head and neck cancers
Thyroid cancer





This study used different types of MRI scans to gather information about growths on the thyroid gland.

These results were published in 2016.

More about this trial

If you have a lump (nodule) on your thyroid Open a glossary item, your doctor may take a sample of cells and fluid. This test is a needle biopsy. They then look at the sample under a microscope to see if there are any cancer cells.

But it can be difficult to get clear results and a proper diagnosis using biopsies. To make sure, you may need surgery to remove part of your thyroid gland. You might then need further surgery, or other treatment, depending on your situation.

Doctors in this study looked at another possible way of studying these lumps. They used scans similar to MRI scans Open a glossary item.

Diffusion weighted MRI (DWI) helps show up damaged tissue. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) looks at chemical changes linked to disease in body tissues.

The aim of this study was to see how well these types of scan could improve diagnosis of thyroid gland lumps before surgery.

Summary of results

The team found that diffusion weighted MRI (DWI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) could possibly be used to improve diagnosis of thyroid gland lumps.

46 people took part in this study. Everyone had surgery to remove some or all of their thyroid.

Before surgery everyone had a:

  • standard MRI scan
  • diffusion weighted MRI scan
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy

When the team looked at the diffusion weighted MRI scans they found them to be clearer and easier to read.

For the magnetic resonance spectroscopy the team said it might have the potential to show the difference types of thyroid cancer. And that it might also be a way to identify what is normal tissue and what is cancer tissue.

The team concluded that more studies with larger numbers of people are needed to confirm if DWI and MRS can improve the diagnosis of thyroid lumps.

We have based this summary on information from the research team. The information they sent us has been reviewed by independent specialists (peer reviewed Open a glossary item) and published in a medical journal. The figures we quote above were provided by the trial team who did the research. We have not analysed the data ourselves.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Mr Piyush Jani

Supported by

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC)
University of Cambridge

If you have questions about the trial please contact our cancer information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Last reviewed:

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