Detection and Diagnosis
You’re having a screening or a definitive diagnostic test. Early cancer detection is important and accurate diagnosis is crucial to better your chance for recovery.
Your doctor will discuss the best way to detect or diagnose cancer based on your health and family history, symptoms, and other factors. Your tests are unique to you and your situation.
Learn about these common cancer detection and diagnosis techniques.
Biopsy. Used to take sample body tissue cells. These cells are analyzed for cancer presence. Common cancer diagnostic biopsies include:
- Bone marrow biopsy. A sample is drawn from your bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside your bone. Bone marrow biopsies are used to diagnosis blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
- Endoscopic biopsy. Typically used to get lung, bladder, or colon tissue. Endoscopic biopsy is guided by a tiny, lighted camera.
- Needle biopsy. Your doctor uses a special needle to extract cells from an area in question. Needle biopsies are usually used to test areas that are felt under the skin like breast lumps and enlarged lymph nodes.
Mammography. Your mammograms are used for both early breast cancer detection, as well as for diagnosis of lumps, breast pain, or unusual breast symptoms. Your doctor will recommend the frequency and type of mammogram preferred. Learn more about mammography and other breast cancer detection tests.
Bone scan. A bone scan is a comfortable procedure used to determine if cancer has developed in or spread to your bones. It works much like a standard X-ray, but differs in that a radioactive material is injected into your body and settles into your bones. Learn about bone scans and cancer detection.
MRI. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses radio waves and a magnetic field to gather images of various body parts. MRI is often used to assist in breast, brain, spinal cord, and liver cancer diagnosis. Know more about MRI and cancer diagnosis.
CT scan. Your doctor may order a CT, a series of X-ray images, for further information to locate or diagnose a tumor, or to guide surgical, biopsy, or radiological procedures. Understand CT scans.
PET scan. Provides more information about the tissues and presence of tumors. A small amount of radioactive material is injected, giving your doctor a highlighted view of the area under suspicion for cancer. Learn how PET scans help with my diagnosis.
Ultrasound. Creates a clearer picture of your tissue and organs. It uses sound waves and a computer to indicate the presence of tumors. Your doctor may order an ultrasound for your kidneys, liver, or other organs. Learn about ultrasound and cancer diagnosis.
Endoscopy. Often used to guide a biopsy, endoscopy uses a tiny, lighted camera to view your colon, esophagus, lungs, stomach, portions of the small intestine, and other organs. It can detect tumors and diagnose lung cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, and other cancers. Know how endoscopy can detect and diagnose cancer.
Blood tests. Except with blood cancers, blood tests are used only in conjunction with other diagnostic cancer tests. It’s also important to note that, just because your doctor has ordered a blood test to look for signs of cancer, it doesn’t mean you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Common blood tests you may receive are: complete blood count, blood protein test, and tumor marker test.
Talk to your doctor about early detection and diagnosis.