There are different forms of diagnostic tests available for various cancers. When choosing a diagnostic test, your doctor takes into account several things such as your age, medical condition, the type of cancer suspected, the severity of the symptoms, and previous test results. Not every potential cancer patient needs all available tests. Read on to know more about commonly used tests and procedure in cancer care.
- Barium enema: Barium enema is an x-ray examination of the colon and rectum. The procedure delivers liquid into the rectum and colon through the anus. Barium is the liquid used in a barium enema. When an x-ray is taken, the barium shows up bright white, clearly outlining the colon and rectum. Abnormalities, such as inflammation, polyps are then visible.
- Biopsy: It is a medical procedure which is the only way to make a definitive cancer diagnosis, as it provides the most accurate analysis of tissue. A biopsy can be a simple outpatient surgical procedure performed in a doctor's office, depending on the part of the body under examination. Different types of biopsies include, fine needle aspiration biopsy, core needle biopsy, vacuum-assisted biopsy, image-guided biopsy and surgical biopsy.
- Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: A bone marrow biopsy and aspiration is an examination of the bone marrow that provides information about the development and function of blood cells.
- Bone scan: A bone scan is an imaging test that uses a very small amount of a radioactive substance to find cancer that started in the bones or that has spread to the bones from another part of the body.
- Breast MRI: A breast MRI test may be used to screen women who are at a high risk for breast cancer or to find out more about the stage of cancer after initial breast cancer diagnosis.
- Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy is a procedure used to look inside the entire large intestine. Post giving sedation, the doctor inserts a colonoscope into the anus and throughout the full length of the colon. The doctor views the image captured by the colonoscope on a video monitor.
- Computed Tomography (CT) scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan creates a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed, cross-sectional view that shows any abnormalities or tumors.
- Digital Rectal Exam (DRE): A digital rectal exam (DRE) is a screening test for both men and women that allows a doctor to check for cancer and other health problems in the lower rectum, pelvis, and lower belly.
- Echocardiogram: An echocardiogram checks your heart function and identifies any issues that might be present. Some people with cancer who receive chemotherapy may need one of these tests.
- Endoscopy: Endoscopy is a procedure that allows a doctor to view the inside of a person's body by inserting a tool called an endoscope. Most endoscopes are thin tubes with a powerful light source and a tiny camera at the end that sends images to a screen. The images help doctors see parts of the body that they would not otherwise be able to view.
- Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a test that may be used to search for signs of colorectal cancer or other health conditions. There are two types of FOBTs- Guaiac-based FOBT and Immunochemical FOBT.
- Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scan: A PET scan creates pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. A small amount of a radioactive substance is injected into a vein. This substance is absorbed mainly by organs and tissues that use the most energy. A scanner then detects this substance to produce images of the inside of the body.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): It is a test that uses magnetic fields, not x-rays, to produce detailed images of the body, helping a doctor find, evaluate, or monitor a cancer.
- Mammography: It is a type of X-ray that looks for breast cancer in women without signs of the disease or in women with breast lumps or other breast irregularities. There are two types of mammography- Screening mammography and Diagnostic mammography.
- Multigated Acquisition (MUGA): A multigated acquisition (MUGA) scan creates video images of the ventricles to check whether they are pumping blood properly. It shows any abnormalities in the size of the ventricles and in the movement of the blood through the heart.
- Tumor markers: Tumor markers are substances found at higher than normal levels in the blood, urine, or body tissue of some people with cancer. Although cancer cells often produce tumor markers, other healthy cells in the body produce them as well. Along with other diagnostic tests, testing for tumor markers can indicate the presence of cancer and help doctors make treatment decisions.
- Ultrasound: An ultrasound is an imaging test that uses high-frequency sound waves to create a picture of internal organs. Irregular growths of tissue create different echoes of the sound waves than healthy tissue, so a doctor is able to detect a potential tumor.