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How Cancer is Diagnosed

February 10, 2022
Est. Reading: 6 minutes

Interesting Ways of Detecting Cancer - How Cancer is Diagnosed

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in today's society. Cancer cases have been steadily increasing for the past few years, but detecting them early can improve survival. There are several ways of detecting cancer, some of which an individual can perform on themselves and others that need to be done by medical professionals and doctors.



Ways to Detect Cancer Performed by an Individual

  • Self-Examinations

One way to detect cancer is by doing “self-examinations”, especially if the individual notices something different about their body during or after showering or bathing, for example. This will allow catching skin cancers before they spread further into the and affect other parts of the body. It is also important that if an individual is over 30, they should also do monthly breast exams. Although breast cancer is more common among women than men, it is still essential that men should also check themselves for any abnormalities.

  • Dermascope

Another way to detect skin cancer is by using an at-home microscope called a “dermascope” which allows an individual to magnify their skin up to 10 times bigger than its normal size, enabling them to see any imperfection that may surface on the skin. The dermoscopy can be bought online or in stores that sell beauty products for around an affordable price.


CT Scans

Ways to Detect Cancer Performed by Medical Professionals

Some interesting ways of detecting cancer include biopsy, genetic testing, CT scans, PET scans, MRI scans, blood tests, among others.

  • Biopsy: One way of detecting cancer is through a biopsy. A biopsy is one of the primary diagnostic tools for detecting cancer. There are two types of biopsies: surgical biopsy, in which a doctor removes a suspicious-looking mass from the patixrayent's body through an incision, and pathology biopsy, in which the pathologist finds out whether cancer cells are present by performing a biopsy on a sample.
  • Genetic Test: Genetic testing is another way of detecting cancer. A genetic test can be done to detect various inherited mutations that make you more susceptible to certain cancers. For example, if someone in the family has had breast or ovarian cancer, an individual should consider getting themselves checked for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Once diagnosed with these gene mutations, it is important to get regular mammograms and/or other appropriate tests as recommended by a doctor.
  • CT Scans: A CT scan is what used to be called a CAT scan and stands for “computed tomography.” It uses x-rays to take detailed, cross-sectional images of the body's internal organs and tissues. It can also show blood vessels and bones in detail, which doctors may need if biopsies are not conclusive or surgery is needed. Because CT scans use small amounts of radiation, they should only be done when absolutely necessary. However, these scans provide a clear diagnosis that cannot be obtained from biopsies alone.


genetic test


  • PET Scan: Another way of detecting cancer is through positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which combines a radioactive tracer with glucose (sugar). Doctors inject the tracer, and the patient has a PET scan to check the sugar metabolism in cells because cancer cells have a different metabolism from normal cells. A scan will show whether there is increased glucose uptake in any part of the body.
  • MRI Scans: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) allows doctors to detect abnormalities that cannot be seen on CT or routine X-rays. It uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed images of areas inside the body without using x-ray radiation. MRI scans are mainly used for examining soft tissues such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels – organs made up of these soft tissues – such as the brain and spinal cord.
  • Blood Test: In general, some biopsies rely on blood vessels' presence to supply tumors. Blood tests can determine whether there is an increased level of certain substances, such as calcium or ferritin, which are linked with high cancer risk.
  • Bone Scans: This method is often used to detect metastatic cancer due to cell multiplying rapidly. They appear as a hotspot on the bone scan. Bone scans may also be used to stage cancer before and after treatment to determine its efficiency.
  • Colonoscopy: A colonoscopy – a colon cancer test – is a procedure in which a doctor uses an endoscope with a tiny camera attached to see the inside of the colon (large intestine). It's used as part of the screening process for colon cancer and other colon diseases, such as colitis and Crohn’s disease. There are three types of colonoscopies: flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS), standard colonoscopy (SC), and double-contrast barium enema (DCBE). Each has specific guidelines on when it should be done and who should do it. FS colonoscopies can only be used for parts of the colon; SC colonoscopies allow doctors to examine the entire colon; DCBE colonoscopies use barium to see the colon more clearly.
  • Pap Smear: The Pap smear – a test for cervical cancer – allows doctors to detect early signs of disease, which is key to gaining the upper hand in the battle against cancer. A pap smear is an examination of cells from the cervix (the lower part of the uterus) and is done as part of a routine gynecological exam. During a pap test, a doctor or nurse inserts an instrument called a speculum into the vagina and holds the lips apart so that they can easily see the cervix. They then use a small brush or spatula to remove some cells from the surface of the cervix and examine them under a microscope. This procedure helps them identify any changes in shape, size, texture, color, etc., that might indicate the presence of cancerous cells.
  • Endometrial Biopsy: Endometrial biopsy is a procedure in which doctors remove small pieces of the lining of the uterus (endometrium) to check for abnormal tissue growth, including cancerous lesions. This test can be done in different ways, but most often it involves using an instrument called an aspirator or pipelle to pass through the cervix and into the uterus. The doctor then uses this tool to carefully suck up several samples of cells from inside the uterus, which is examined under a microscope. An endometrial biopsy may also be used to confirm that ovulation has occurred after fertility treatments such as artificial insemination or IVF (in vitro fertilization).
  • Barium Swallow: A barium swallow for detecting cancer is a test in which barium, a chalky white substance that shows up on X-rays, is swallowed to examine the digestive tract. It can detect ulcers or other abnormalities, including those that might be caused by cancer. In order to get barium into the system, the individual may need to drink a chalky liquid mix about an hour before the procedure begins.
  • DEXA Scans: Having a DEXA scan is another way an individual can detect cancer. DEXA stands for dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry and is commonly used by doctors to detect osteoporosis, but also helps them determine if they have an increased risk of getting certain types of cancers. The DEXA scan does not aim to diagnose a person with cancer, but it works as a screening tool, allowing them to start treatment earlier if needed. Consistent DEXA scans over time help doctors track the progress of a patient as well.
  • Laparoscopy: Laparoscopy is a surgical procedure in which doctors make small incisions in the abdomen and insert a thin tube equipped with a tiny video camera (a laparoscope) to look for problems within his or her abdominal cavity, such as ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, bowel disease, tumors of the reproductive organs (uterus and ovaries), abnormalities of the Fallopian tubes or uterus. Laparoscopic procedures are generally less invasive than traditional surgery because the surgeon only requires one or two small cuts instead of one large opening for access. Laparoscopy may also be used for trauma cases involving damage to internal organs. The laparoscopic examination allows surgeons to better vi    sualize abdominal structures during minimally invasive surgical procedures that require single or multiple tiny incisions. Laparoscopic procedures are a common method of performing diagnostic procedures and for treating a variety of diseases and conditions, from endometriosis to birth defects.
  • Nuclear Medicine Scans: Nuclear medicine scans use small amounts of radioactive materials called radiopharmaceuticals or radiotracers that appear in the body during imaging scans. A good example is a PET scan (positron emission tomography), which uses special cameras to detect radioactivity emitted by the tumor cells to locate them. This type of test looks at how well organs take up the radiotracer, instead of focusing on specific tissues like an x-ray does; it's often used as a part of the diagnosis for cancer.

Final Notes

A major factor that increases the chances of detecting cancer better is age; during early stages, it's easier to spot cancers in younger people compared to older ones who develop the same tumor.

The best way to detect cancer early is by practicing healthy habits like eating balanced meals, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. Avoiding things like smoking can also help lessen the chances of getting cancer. Visit cancer cell treatment for relevant information on cancer care.



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