How is cancer diagnosed?

There is no single test that can accurately diagnose cancer. The complete evaluation of a patient usually requires a thorough history and physical examination along with diagnostic testing. Many tests are needed to determine whether a person has cancer, or if another condition (such as an infection) is mimicking the symptoms of cancer. There are number of ways to diagnose cancer.

Diagnostic blood tests

They are designed to identify a tumor caused impairment.

  • Blood tests like CBC's- complete blood counts and differential blood cell counts.
  • Tumor markers- Tumor markers are substances either released by cancer cells into the blood or urine or substances created by the body in response to cancer cells. Tumor markers are used to evaluate how well a patient has responded to treatment and to check for tumor recurrence. Eg Alpha fetoprotein (AFP), carcinoeembryonic antigen (CEA), Prostrate specific antigen (PSA) etc are used to indicate the presence of tumor.

Imaging Techniques

Imaging is the process of producing valuable 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. Imaging may also be used when performing biopsies and other surgical procedures.