A cancer diagnosis isn’t something anyone wants to receive. Luckily, treatments are becoming more and more advanced every year.
If you’re nervous that you may have cancer, these are the common tests doctors will use to find it. These tests will determine if you have cancer or if the symptoms are from a different cause.
Complete Blood Count
A complete blood count (CBC) measures your white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelet numbers. It will also check the hemoglobin levels and the number of red blood cells you have. A CBC will also measure the number of hemoglobin in your red blood cells and your red blood cell size.
This test is part of routine check-ups and can catch some cancers, especially leukemias. Doctors will also use it to monitor your health during and after cancer treatment.
Radioactive materials allow the machine to take pictures of the inside of your body. It’s one way that medicine uses radioisotopes today. You’ll likely receive an injection of the radioactive materials (also known as the tracer) before the scan to allow it to flow through your bloodstream. The tracer will collect in specific organs or bones.
The doctor will then look at the images that the machine provides. Don’t worry about the radioactive material keeping its potency in your body; it will break down and lose its strength over time.
Doctors use biopsies to know for certain if you have cancer. They’ll take a small sample of the abnormal tissue and send it to a lab for further testing. A pathologist will look closely at the tissue under a microscope and run additional tests.
When the pathologist finishes their work, the doctor will receive a report containing the details of the diagnosis. The report will help determine the best treatment options along with other information.
MRI machines use strong radio waves and magnets to capture images of your body in slices. A computer will combine these photos to create a detailed picture of your body. A specialist may inject a dye before or during the exam. This dye in your veins will make any tumors appear brighter in the photos.
Undergoing these common tests will provide concrete evidence to diagnose or not diagnose you with cancer. They may be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. You and your doctor will work closely to develop the best possible treatment if the tests come back positive.