Cancer is a severe disease and it is essential to detect it at its early stages, because most cancer patients have a higher chance of being cured at the disease's earliest stage of detection. There is no one test that can surely determine the presence of cancer. That is why cancer diagnosing is a complex procedure that is constituted from a number of invasive and non-invasive tests. These may include laboratory tests, biopsy, imaging, endoscopic or surgical examination and genetic tests.
The first steps for cancer diagnosing is a check of the patient's medical history and a thorough physical examination. The doctor will establish the risk of cancer by asking about your physical complaints, your family's illness history, your age, environmental conditions and lifestyle. The physical examination may include thorough examination of the entire body, or of a certain region. Laboratory tests will include blood tests, urinary test, and tumor markers tests.
Tumor markers are considered certain antigens, proteins and other substances, detected in blood or urine at higher levels than normally. These tests will not give a 100% cancer diagnosis and must be interpreted very carefully. Sometimes they may give false-positive results, which can have serious psychological consequences. That is why it is important to explain to the patient that this is only a directing test, and it is not decisive.
And vice versa, there is a possibility of false-negative test, so the examination should not be stopped at this level. Imaging tests include X-rays, computer tomography (CT), ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), radionuclide scanning, positron emission tomography (PET), and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). Imagining methods for cancer diagnosing permit the visualization of different abnormal masses in tissues.
Each of these methods is efficient in specific types of cancer. So, your doctor will decide which areas of your body must be examined and which imaging methods would be most informative in your specific case. By visualizing tissues, he can determine the presence or absence of a tumor, its precise localization, dimensions and other important particularities. One of the most precise tests for cancer diagnosing is cancer biopsy.
Biopsy is the extraction of a sample of tissue for the histological examination of the tumor cells effectuated by a pathologist. Histological examination of the cancerous cells will indicate the type of proliferating cells, the cancer's grade, and its malignity (aggressiveness). Depending on the cancer's localization, there can be effectuated needle biopsy, endoscopic biopsy, and surgical biopsy. An important procedure for detecting cancer is cancer screening.
The purpose of cancer screening is detecting the possibility of a cancer presence at its early stages, when it presents no symptoms yet. Most frequent screening tests are used for the early detection of breast cancer and cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. These tests include breast self-examination, mammography, and Papanicolaou cervical test for women and measuring the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in blood for men.
Cancer diagnosing includes a thorough examination and a number of complex non-invasive and invasive tests, such as blood and urine tests, genetic tests, imaging methods and cancer biopsy.
The bottom line is to be aware of cancer warning signs, and admitting yourself for a check-up if you have concerns. After that it's in the hands of modern medicine and diagnosis and treatment.