How is cancer diagnosed?

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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.