How is cancer diagnosed?

Cancer may be detected when symptoms or abnormalities, such as a lump or growth, are recognized by a patient or doctor. After a cancer is detected, it still must be carefully diagnosed. A diagnosis is an identification of a particular type of cancer. When making a diagnosis, the initial signs and symptoms are investigated through a variety of tests, and a biopsy of the tissue must be performed in order to identify whether cancer is causing them and, if so, what type of cancer it is.
Doctors  can use a variety of tests to screen for cancer including physical  exams, biopsies, lab tests, and imaging tests. Sometimes cancers have signs or symptoms, like a lump or bleeding, that is the first indication of disease; other times a routine test during a physical, like a blood test or feeling the lymph nodes, gives the doctor a clue. Screening tests and diagnostic tests vary depending on the kind of cancer involved -- for example, a colonoscopy for colorectal cancer or a needle biopsy for liver cancer. Imaging tests like X-rays or MRIs can locate potential malignant growths. If cancer is found, your  doctor will determine the stage, or severity, of the cancer to find the  best course of treatment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.