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Tuesday, 1 January 2013
How is cancer diagnosed and staged?
Early detection of cancer can greatly improve the odds of successful
treatment and survival. Physicians use information from symptoms and
several other procedures to diagnose
cancer. Imaging techniques such as X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, PET
scans, and ultrasound scans are used regularly in order to detect where a
tumor is located and what organs
may be affected by it. Doctors may also conduct an endoscopy, which is a
procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera and light at one end, to
look for abnormalities inside the body.
Extracting cancer cells and looking at them under a microscope is the only absolute way to diagnose cancer. This procedure
is called a biopsy. Other types of molecular diagnostic tests
are frequently employed as well. Physicians will analyze your body's
sugars, fats, proteins, and DNA at the molecular level. For example,
cancerous prostate cells release a higher
level of a chemical called PSA (prostate-specific antigen) into the
bloodstream that can be detected by a blood test. Molecular diagnostics,
biopsies, and imaging techniques are all used
together to diagnose cancer.