How do I get tested for cancer?
Cancer is the number two cause of death worldwide. However, the survival rates for various cancers are improving, thanks to advancements in screening and treating cancer. In most cases, the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the higher the chances of recovery. With this in mind, visit us at Western Wayne Physicians to learn which specific type of cancer screening is appropriate for your case based on your risk factors.
The Importance of Cancer Screening
For certain types of cancers, the National Cancer Institute states that screening tests could really save lives because of early diagnosis. For some cancers, however, the NCI only recommends screening tests for individuals who have an increased risk of developing cancer. That being said, various organizations, including the American Cancer Society and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention among others, have guidelines and recommendations for cancer screening tests. It’s best that you review these recommendations with your doctor so you can figure out the best course for you based on your specific risk factors.
How Cancer is Diagnosed
Doctors commonly utilize a combination of the following for diagnosing cancer:
A Thorough Physical Examination: During your physical examination, your doctor will feel certain parts of your body for any lumps that might indicate you have a tumor. Your doctor will also check for any irregularities like an enlarged organ or changes in the color of the skin, which may also be cancer symptoms.
Laboratory Tests: These include your standard blood and urine tests to identify abnormalities that could indicate cancer. For example, if you have leukemia, a complete blood count or CBC might reveal an abnormal type or number of white blood cells or WBC.
Imaging Tests: These enable your doctor to check your internal organs and bones. The most common imaging tests used for cancer diagnosis include an X-ray, ultrasound, MRI or magnetic resonance imaging, PET or positron emission tomography, CT or computerized tomography scan, or a bone scan.
Biopsy: This involves taking cell samples from your body that will then be tested for cancer in a lab. Doctors collect samples in several ways, but a biopsy is oftentimes the only and most accurate way of diagnosing cancer.