The main types of testing for cancer include blood work, biopsies, and diagnostic imaging.
If your doctor sends you for testing, some important questions to ask would be:
1. Is there anything I should do to prepare for the tests?
2. Who will be providing me with the results and when will they be available?
3. How will we proceed once we receive the test results?
A complete blood count (CBC) is a common blood test that your doctor may recommend to:
Help diagnose some blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma
Find out if cancer has spread to the bone marrow
Diagnose other, noncancerous conditions
A biopsy is a procedure which removes a sample of tissue or tumor from the body for examination under a microscope
Biopsies are used to diagnose cancer or find out whether an abnormal growth is cancerous
CT / MRI / PET / Ultra Sound / Mammography are all types of imaging used to diagnose cancer. A CT scan is the most commonly used. It help gives a clear image a tumor's shape, size, and location. The scan is painless and takes about 10 to 30 minutes.
At a minimum, be sure to ask the following essential questions during the testing process:
1. What kind of test(s) will I need to have done?
2. Is there anything I can do to prepare for the test(s)?
3. Are there any risks or side effects associated with the test(s)?
4. How long will it take to get the results?
5. Who will be explaining my results to me?
6. Are there any other tests I should be considering at this time?
Not all cancer becomes 'metastatic', meaning it spreads to other parts of the body. However when cancer is found later rather than earlier, your doctor may suspect that your cancer is more advanced and may send you for further testing such as a bone scan, liver or lymph node biopsy, or more diagnostic imaging.