How Cancer Is Diagnosed: 7 Methods to Test and Detect Cancer

Test and Detect Cancer

For those who have symptoms or screening test results which suggest cancer, it’s your doctor’s job to establish whether it’s due to cancer or a different cause. Your doctor may begin by asking about family and personal medical history, as well as conducting a physical examination. Your doctor may order imaging tests or lab tests, and you may need a biopsy to know for sure whether you have cancer or not to Test and Detect Cancer.

Sadly, a total of 1.9 million new cancer cases are expected to occur in the United States this year, with many losing their lives to the disease. Early detection is vital, so here are some of the methods used to test and detect and diagnose cancer.

Lab Tests

Laboratory tests, like blood and urine tests may help your doctor in identifying abnormalities that can be caused by cancer. For example, in individuals with leukemia, a common blood test known as complete blood count may uncover an unusual type or number of white blood cells. It’s important to note that abnormal lab results are not a sure sign of cancer. Some lab tests can feature tissue samples for tumor markers. These are substances that are created by cancer cells or by other cells of the body in reaction to cancer.

CT Scan

A CT scan uses an x-ray machine that is linked to a computer. This scan takes several pictures of your organs from several angles. These findings are used to create detailed 3D images of the inside of the body. In some instances, you may receive a dye before having the scan. You may need to swallow the dye. Alternatively, it can be given by a needle into the vein. If you’re wondering, how accurate is a CT scan for cancer? You can check out Ezra who have a guide on the topic. They explain further on what a CT scan is and compare it against MRI’s. 


An MRI uses radio waves and a powerful magnet to take photos of your body in slices. These slices are used to create thorough images of the inside of the body. This can show the differences between healthy and unhealthy tissue. When having an MRI, you must lay still on a table that is then pushed into a round, long chamber. The MRI machine makes loud rhythmic beats and thumping noises. In some cases, you may need special dye injected into your vein before the MRI exam. This dye can make tumors show up clearer on photos.

Nuclear Scan

Nuclear scans use radioactive materials to take photos of the inside of the body. This type of scan is also known as a radionuclide scan. Before having this scan, you will receive a small amount of radioactive material via injection. This flows throughout your bloodstream, before collecting in certain organs and bones. During a nuclear scan, you lay still on a table while the machine measures and detects radioactivity in your body. This is done by creating photos of organs or bones on film or a computer screen.

Bone Scan to Test and Detect Cancer

A bone scan is a kind of nuclear scan that checks for damage in the bones and abnormal areas. They can be used to establish bone cancer or cancer that has spread to the bones (otherwise known as metastatic bone tumors). Before having a bone scan, a tiny amount of radioactive material is injected into your vein. Once it travels through the blood, this material collects in any abnormal areas in the bone. Any parts where the material collects can be viewed on photos taken by a special machine.


Ultrasound examinations use high-energy sound waves that people aren’t able to hear. The sound waves reverberate off tissues inside the body. A computer uses such echoes to create photos of areas inside the body. This is known as a sonogram. When having an ultrasound, you will lay on a table while a tech moves a device known as a transducer on the skin over the area of the body that’s being examined. In a nutshell, ultrasounds help doctors spot tumors in certain areas of the body that do not show up well on x-rays.


X-rays use small doses of radiation to create photos inside the body. An x-ray technician will put you into a position and direct the x-ray beam to the right part of the body. While images are being taken, you must lay incredibly still. You may be asked to hold your breath for a couple of seconds too. ( X-rays help doctors look for cancer in various areas of the body, such as organs like kidneys and the stomach, as well as bones.

Diagnosing cancer at its earliest stage often provides the best chance for a cure. This means if you have any symptoms that you’re concerned about, never be afraid to make an appointment with your doctor. All the tests above can help detect cancer and potentially be the difference between life and death.


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