Tests to diagnose Cancer

Reading time: 1 min

From a practical point of view, cancer is diagnosed under three different circumstances:

  • Chance finding. Cancer is diagnosed in patients that do not have any symptoms and who undergo an examination that is unrelated to a suspicion of cancer, such as a preoperative imaging test or routine analysis during an occupational medical check-up.
  • Screening. The suspicion of cancer is detected during a screening programme.
  • A search for the origin of nonspecific signs and symptoms
medical history paper

Medical history. The first step when making a diagnosis is to analyse the symptoms and obtain all the relevant information about the risk factors, such as smoking, occupation and family history. After an interview (anamnesis) the doctor will assess whether the case needs to be studied further with additional tests. Once diagnosed, a specialist will evaluate the patient’s general state of health in order to select the best treatment strategy.

Blood extraction tube

Laboratory tests. These determine the number of certain types of cells in the blood.

Magnetic resonance

Imaging tests. Used to observe possible signs of the disease.

microscope

Analytical tests on samples and tissues. Once the presence of the tumour has been confirmed a biopsy is conducted, which is the extraction of a tissue sample for analysis to discover the shape of the cells. There are several methods of extracting these samples. The most appropriate procedure depends on the type of cancer and its location.

Substantiated information by:

Albert Tuca
Aleix Prat
Francesc Balaguer
Meritxell Molla
Montserrat Valverde
Vanessa Vilas
Álvaro Urbano

Published: 12 November 2018
Updated: 20 November 2018

Subscribe

Receive the latest updates related to this content.

Thank you for subscribing!

We have received your information. Check your inbox, in a few moments you will receive a confirmation email.

An error occurred and we were unable to send your data, please try again later.