Tests for cancer diagnosis
Cancer, Tests & Procedures

What Tests Diagnose Cancer?

Diagnosing cancer at an early stage is the best means to survive it but how do you go for one given the fact that tests for cancer diagnosis are many and varied. Probably the best way is to approach your doctor if you doubt cancer and the other best way is to know different tests and diagnoses that involve screening it properly. Shall we know cancer tests in brief?

Tests To Find And Diagnose Cancer

When your doctor doubts that you are prone to cancer or have one he/she will use one or many approaches to find cancer

1. Physical Exam

The doctor will touch the doubted areas to check if there are any lumps or the tumors-the the first indication of cancer. During the time of physical examination, the focus will be to check for abnormalities like enlarged organs, skin color changes, and pain indications.

2. Laboratory Tests

These tests include blood and urine tests and will assist the doctor in identifying deformities that could be the result of cancer. For example, people doubted with leukemia a usual blood test named ‘complete blood count’ could say about an abnormal number or kind of white blood cells.

3. Imaging Tests

In these tests, doctors will examine bones and internal parts using noninvasive ways. These tests include magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scan, positron emission tomography (PET) scan bone scan, X-ray, and ultrasound amongst others.

4. Biopsy

The doctor collects cell samples to be tested in the lab using many ways of gathering samples. One of the best biopsy procedures that fit best is chosen based on the location and cancer type. In the majority of the instances, a biopsy is one of the sure-shot types of cancer screening tests to correctly diagnose cancer.

In this test cell samples are checked for abnormalities especially the abnormalities in size.

Types Of Lab Tests Used To Diagnose Cancer

Whichever test that involves testing of blood, urine, and other body fluids in labs can be considered as lab tests to diagnose cancer. The common cancer screening blood tests include.

1. Complete Blood Count (CBC)

The complete blood count is the most common blood test used to know the presence of cancer. It measures the number of different blood cells from the blood sample collected. Blood cancers can be traced by making use of this test when too few or too many types of blood cells or abnormal cells are traced.

2. Blood Protein Testing

Electrophoresis or blood protein test is a kind of test done to examine different proteins in the blood. Doing so will help in knowing a few nonstandard immune system proteins called immunoglobulins. These proteins sometimes get elevated in people having multiple myeloma.

3. Tumor Marker Tests

This test detects the chemicals made by tumor cells. Blood tests for cancer markers include prostate-specific antigen (PSA), cancer antigen 125 (CA 125), alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

Types Of Imaging Tests Used To Diagnose Cancer

Imaging tests or Radiology make pictures of the areas to be diagnosed and are mostly accurate. An imaging test allows doctors to see what is happening in the body. Any kind of test in this category sends different energy forms such as x-rays, radioactive particles, sound waves, and magnetic fields through the body. Using this sent energy the body tissues form a picture or image which is examined by the doctors to see for changes and differences in the body where cancer is supposed to be. Different imaging tests include;

  • CT ScanMRI
  • Nuclear scan
  • Bone Scan
  • PET scan
  • Ultrasound
  • X-rays

Uses Of Imaging Tests

  • Early detection or screening tests
  • Help in knowing if the symptoms are due to cancer or other ailments
  • To check if a biopsy is needed
  • Know the cancer stage
  • Know the recurrence of cancer

However, one should understand that all though these tests are helpful they have their limitations.

Types Of Biopsy Tests Used To Diagnose Cancer

In a biopsy test, a tissue piece or a cells’ sample is collected to diagnose cancer and these biopsy tests are done through various means by collecting samples through different methods. The most common biopsy procedures include;

  • Bone marrow biopsy, it is used to know blood-related cancers and noncancerous blood problems.
  • Endoscopic biopsy, a small flexible tube is passed into the part to be studied. Examples of this biopsy include cystoscopy and bronchoscopy.
  • Needle biopsy as you can guess includes a needle and different procedures include fine-needle aspiration, core needle biopsy, vacuum-assisted biopsy, and image-guided biopsy.
  • Skin biopsy is commonly used to diagnose skin conditions and cancers and the procedures include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, incisional biopsy, and excisional biopsy.
  • The surgical biopsy includes making an incision in the suspicious skin region.

In addition to these tests for cancer diagnosis, CancerSEEK is also one test that is useful in diagnosing different cancers in early stages.