What is the procedure for diagnosing cancer?

Some Florida residents might be curious as to the way cancer is diagnosed. In many cases, the first step involves obtaining a medical history and administering a physical exam. Furthermore, a doctor might order a battery of tests.

Usually, a patient’s complete blood count is ordered along with an analysis of electrolyte levels. In certain cases, additional blood studies could be ordered, such as a prostate specific antigen test.

Cancer may initially appear as an abnormality in the body. To help doctors detect abnormalities, imaging studies are often utilized. Other common tools for diagnosing cancer include ultrasounds, CT scans, MRI scans and X-rays. In addition, an endoscopy performed by a doctor could facilitate visualization of tissue in the bronchi, throat or intestinal tract that could be cancerous.

For areas that are difficult to visualize, the doctor could use radionuclide scanning. This is often used for seeing inside the lymph nodes or bones. This particular test requires ingesting a radioactive substance that is not very strong but can be detected in tissue that is abnormal.

Following these tests, a biopsy is typically employed as the next step toward achieving a definitive diagnosis. A biopsy can determine whether cancer is present in the body and, if so, what type of cancer it is. Subsequently, a pathologist will analyze the biopsy. In cases where cancer is found through a biopsy, the doctor may attempt to remove the cancer at the same time as the biopsy is performed.

In the event that an individual’s cancer goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed, the consequences may be devastating if not tragic. Patients who suspect that they may be the victim of a diagnosis error may wish to consult with an attorney. The lawyer may review the case and advise whether a medical malpractice suit is warranted. If so, the lawyer may provide specific counsel. This blog post, on the other hand, intends only to provide general information.

SourceMedicine Net, “How is cancer diagnosed?“, October 30, 2014