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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How is cancer diagnosed?

Most people experience symptoms and begin by seeing their GP. If your GP thinks that you have symptoms that may be caused by cancer, they will examine you and refer you on to a specialist at the hospital for tests and treatment, if necessary.

At the hospital, the doctor will take your medical history and do a physical examination. You may have x-rays and blood tests taken and possibly scans. You may need to have a sample taken of the lump or abnormal area – this is known as a biopsy. The biopsy sample is then analysed in a laboratory and the cells examined so that the doctors can see exactly what type of cancer it is and whether it is likely to grow slowly or more quickly.

Scans can measure the size of the cancer and whether it has spread to other tissues or nearby lymph glands (nodes). This process is called "staging" the cancer. Once the type and stage of the cancer is known, the doctors can decide how best to treat it.

There are questions and answers about the different tests and investigations, that you might find helpful to read.

Via: http://www.cancerbackup.org.uk

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