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Cancer Tests Overview

Cancer Diagnostic Imaging

Imaging—X-rays, CT scans, MRIs—is a process that produces pictures of body structures and organs. It is used to detect tumors and other abnormalities, to determine the extent of disease, and to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment.

Laboratory Tests for Cancer

Lab tests are used in cancer diagnosis to look for tumor markers. These are substances either released by cancer cells into the blood or urine or substances created by the body in response to cancer cells.

Endoscopic Examination for Cancer

An endoscope is a small, flexible tube with a light and a lens on the end used to look into the esophagus, stomach, duodenum, colon, or rectum. It can also be used to take tissue from the body for testing or to take color photographs of the inside of the body.

Biopsy

Detailed information on biopsy, including the most common types of biopsy such as endoscopic biopsy, bone marrow biopsy, excisional biopsy, incisional biopsy, fine needle aspiration biopsy, punch biopsy, shave biopsy, and skin biopsy

Blood Test

Your doctor might order a blood test to find out if you are sick, if your body is responding to an allergy, or if you are at risk for certain health conditions.

Lymphangiogram

A lymphangiogram is a type of X-ray that is used to look at the lymph nodes and lymph vessels, structures that make up your child's lymphatic system.

Gastroenterology Tests and Procedures

Barium Swallow

During this procedure, a mixture of barium and water is swallowed just before an x-ray. The barium is used to highlight damage or abnormalities in the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the pharnyx, esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.

Barium Enema

A barium enema is used to highlight damage or abnormalities in the colon and rectum by creating greater areas of contrast in x-ray film.

Upper Gastrointestinal Series

An upper gastrointestinal series (UGI) is an x-ray examination of the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and duodenum.

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy

Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a diagnostic procedure used to diagnose structural or functional abnormalities of the esophagus, stomach, and/or duodenum.

Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography

Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) is a procedure in which x-ray and an endoscope - a long, flexible, lighted tube - are used to assess and treat problems in the liver, gallbladder, bile ducts, and pancreas.

Pancreas Scan

A pancreas scan uses nuclear radiology to search for, and sometime treat, tumors in the pancreas.

Liver Scan

A liver scan - also known as a liver-spleen scan - uses nuclear radiology to assess the function and structure of the liver and surrounding organs. It may also be used to assess the progress of treatment for certain conditions.

Liver Biopsy

A liver biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples from the liver are removed for examination under a microscope to look for signs of damage or disease. It is used to diagnose many liver conditions.

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy uses a small camera to examine the inside of the colon. It is typically used to screen for colon cancer, and to asses other injuries, abnormalities, or disease.

PEG Tube Placement

A percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) tube is a feeding tube that is surgically placed through your abdomen into your stomach.

Sigmoidoscopy

A sigmoidoscopy is a procedure that allows the physician to examine the lower one-third of the large intestine and is helpful in identifying the causes of diarrhea, abdominal pain, constipation, abnormal growths, and bleeding.

Abdominal X-rays

Abdominal X-rays are used to diagnose internal injuries or abnormalities of the bones and organs.

Abdominal Ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasound is a procedure that uses sound wave technology to assess the organs, structures, and blood flow inside the abdomen.

Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) Scan of the Abdomen

A CT/CAT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, organs, and blood vessels. CT/CAT scans are more detailed than standard x-rays and are used to assess the organs and tissues for for injuries, abnormalities, or disease.

Laparoscopy

Laparoscopy is a procedure that utilizes a laparoscope, a thin flexible tube containing a video camera to examine the organs of the abdominal cavity.

Pulmonary Tests and Procedures

Chest X-ray

A chest X-ray is used to examine the chest and the lungs and other organs and structures located in the chest.

Chest Ultrasound

Chest ultrasound is a procedure in which sound wave technology is used alone, or along with other types of diagnostic methods, to examine the organs and structures of the chest.

Bronchoscopy

A brochosopy is a procedure in which a long, lighted scope is inserted into the lungs in order to examine the airways of the lungs and to assess lung function.

Lung Biopsy

A lung biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are removed with a special needle to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Pleural Biopsy

A pleural biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of the pleura (the membrane that surrounds the lungs) is removed with a special biopsy needle or during surgery to determine if disease, infection, or cancer is present.

Mediastinoscopy

A mediastinoscopy is a surgical procedure performed to examine the mediastinum - the space behind the sternum (breastbone) in the middle of the chest that separates the two lungs.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET Scan)

Positron emission tomography (PET) is a specialized radiology procedure used to examine various body tissues to identify certain conditions. PET may also be used to follow the progress of the treatment of certain conditions.

Thoracentesis

Thoracentesis is a procedure in which a needle is inserted through the back of the chest wall to remove fluid or air from between the lungs and the interior chest wall.

Lobectomy

A lobectomy is a surgical procedure that removes one of the lobes of the lungs.

Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) Scan of the Chest

CT/CAT scans are more detailed than standard x-rays and are often used to assess the organs of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, and esophagus, for injuries, abnormalities, or disease.

Orthopedic Tests and Procedures

Bone Biopsy

A bone biopsy is a procedure in which bone samples are removed to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Bone Marrow Biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy involves removing tissue from the red bone marrow to be sent to the lab for microscopic examination.

Bone Scan

A bone scan is used to examine the various bones of the skeleton to identify areas of physical and chemical changes in bone.

X-rays of the Extremities

This procedure is often used as the first step in diagnosing injuries of the extremities, but may also be used to evaluate other problems involving the bones and/or soft tissues.

X-rays of the Spine, Neck, or Back

This procedure may be used to diagnose back or neck pain, fractures or broken bones, arthritis, degeneration of the disks, tumors, or other problems.

Neurology Tests and Procedures

Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) Scan of the Brain

CT scans of the brain can provide detailed information about brain tissue and brain structures than standard x-rays of the head, thus providing more information related to injuries and/or diseases of the brain.

Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) Scan of the Spine

A CT scan of the spine may be performed to assess the spine for a herniated disk, tumors and other lesions, the extent of injuries, structural anomalies such as spina bifida, blood vessel malformations, or other conditions.

Craniotomy

A craniotomy is the surgical removal of part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain.

Electroencephalogram (EEG)

The EEG is used to evaluate several types of brain disorders, including epilepsy, Alzheimer's disease, certain psychoses, and certain sleep disorders.

Gamma Knife

Gamma Knife radiosurgery uses beams of highly focused gamma rays to treat small- to medium-sized lesions, usually in the brain.

Lumbar Puncture (LP)

A lumbar puncture (LP), also known as a spinal tap, is a diagnostic and/or therapeutic procedure used to remove a small amount of cerebrospinal fluid for examination and diagnosis of various disorders.

X-rays of the Skull

X-rays of the skull may be performed to diagnose fractures of the bones of the skull, birth defects, tumors, and certain disorders that cause bone defects of the skull. Skull X-rays may also be used to evaluate the nasal sinuses and detect calcifications within the brain.

Gynecology Tests and Procedures

Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy is a procedure in which samples of breast tissue are removed with a special biopsy needle or during surgery to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

A breast MRI is a procedure in which large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer are used to take detailed pictures of the breast in order to search for abnormalities that may signal the presence of cancer.

Breast Scan

A breast scan is a procedure in which nuclear radiology is used to assess and diagnose various conditions, such as tumors, abscesses, hematomas, organ enlargement, and cysts, as well as organ function and blood flow to the tissue.

Breast Ultrasound

Ultrasound, or sound wave technology is used to examine breast tissue. It may also be used to assess blood flow to areas inside the breasts.

Cervical Biopsy

A cervical biopsy is a procedure performed to remove tissue from the cervix to test for abnormal or precancerous conditions, or cervical cancer.

Colposcopy

Colposcopy is a procedure that uses an instrument with a magnifying lens and a light, called a colposcope, to examine the cervix (opening to the uterus) and vagina for abnormalities.

Dilation and Curettage (D and C)

A dilation and curettage procedure, also called a D and C, is a surgical procedure in which the cervix is dilated so that the cervical canal and uterine lining can be scraped with a spoon-shaped instrument to remove abnormal tissues.

Endometrial Biopsy

An endometrial biopsy is a procedure performed to obtain a small tissue sample from the lining of the uterus.

Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus. Different portions of the uterus, as well as other organs, may be removed at the same time.

Loop Electrosurgical Excision Procedure (LEEP)

Loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP) uses a wire loop heated by electric current to remove cells and tissue as part of the diagnosis and treatment for abnormal or cancerous conditions in a woman’s lower genital tract.

Breast-Conserving Surgery

A lumpectomy is a type of breast-conserving surgery in which a cancerous lump and a portion of the breast tissue around the cancerous lump are removed, leaving the breast intact.

Mammogram Procedure

A mammogram is an X-ray examination of the breast amd is used to detect and diagnose breast disease in women.

Mastectomy

A mastectomy is a surgical procedure in which all or a portion of a breast is removed as a part of a treatment plan for breast cancer.

Pap Test

A Pap test is a screening test to collect and microscopically examine cells taken from the cervix.

Pelvic Ultrasound

Ultrasound, or sound wave technology, is used to examine the organs and structures in the female pelvis.

Urology Tests and Procedures

Cystoscopy for Women

Cytoscopy is a procedure in which a long, lighted scope is used to examine the urinary tract, bladder, urethra, and openings to the ureters and is used when problems with the urinary tract are suspected.

Intravenous Pyelogram

An intravenous pyelogram is a procedure that uses a combination of contrast dyes and X-rays to look for obstructions in the blood flow of the kidneys or poor kidney function.

Kidney Biopsy

A kidney biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are removed with a special needle to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present, or to determine how well the kidney is working.

Kidney Scan

A kidney scan uses nuclear radiology to assess the function and structure of the kidneys, as well as blood flow to the kidney tissue.

Kidney Ultrasound

An ultrasound of the kidney uses An ultrasound of the kidney is a procedure in which sound wave technology is used to assess the size, shape, and location of the kidneys in order to detect injuries, abnormalities or disease.

Kidney, Ureter, and Bladder X-ray

A KUB x-ray may be the first diagnostic procedure used to assess the urinary system; to find the cause of abdominal pain, such as masses, perforations, or obstruction; or to evaluate the urinary tract before other diagnostic procedures are performed.

Prostate Biopsy

A prostate biopsy is a procedure in which tissue samples are removed with a special needle to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

Prostate/Rectal Sonogram

A sonogram uses ultrasound technology to allow quick visualization of the prostate and related structures from outside the body. It may be used to examine the prostate gland for evidence of cancer.

Radical Prostatectomy

A prostatectomy is a surgical procedure for the partial or complete removal of the prostate. It may be performed to treat prostatic cancer or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

Retrograde Cystography

Retrograde cystography is a procedure in which contrast dye is combined with X-rays to examine a bladder after abdominal trauma, or to find other bladder conditions such as tumors, blood clots, or diverticula.

Retrograde Pyelogram

A retrograde pyelogram is a type of x-ray that uses dye to highlight the bladder, ureters, and renal pelvis, and is usually performed during a procedure called cystoscopy.

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP)

A transurethral resection of the prostate is a surgical procedure that uses a tiny instrument to remove portions of the prostate gland through the penis, requiring no external incision.
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