Treatments, Tests, and Procedures
Learn more about the specific medical tests and procedures used to diagnose and treat cancer.
This article is part of a series on common diagnostic tests that tells you how to prepare for the procedure, what happens during the examination, and what to expect after the test is done. Mammography is a type of x-ray specifically designed to view the breast. The x-ray films produced by mammography, called mammograms, can find small tumors or irregularities in the breast.
This article is part of a series on common diagnostic tests that tells you how to prepare for the procedure, what happens during the examination, and what to expect after the test is done. An upper endoscopy allows a doctor to examine the upper portion of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the esophagus (swallowing tube), stomach, and duodenum (the top of the small intestine). It is also called upper GI endoscopy or esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD).
One of the most important medical advances in the past century was the development of the endoscope. This tool, which in its simplest form is a slim tube with a light source and a camera or video camera at its end, enables a doctor to view certain organs or areas inside of a person's body. Prior to the development of endoscopes, people often had to undergo exploratory surgery to determine the cause of their problem.
For various reasons, people with cancer and their families may decide to travel to receive care. Some—particularly those who reside in rural areas—may have limited access to oncologists and treatment facilities in the local area. Others may elect to travel to consult with a specialist, seek a second opinion on a diagnosis or proposed treatment plan, or undergo a therapy that isn’t widely available, such as radioactive iodine therapy or proton beam therapy.
You may have seen tests advertised on the Internet or elsewhere that can be used to check your risk for specific diseases, including cancer, at home. These tests are called direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic tests. ASCO recently updated its 2003 recommendations for genetic testing to include information on DTC testing, as well as to provide advice to doctors and patients on some of the newer technologies becoming available for cancer screening. To learn about these tests and how to talk with your doctor about genetic testing, Cancer.Net talked with Kenneth Offit, MD, MPH.
A complete blood count (CBC) is a common blood test that is used to help diagnose some blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, tell if a cancer has spread to the bone marrow, and help determine how your body is tolerating cancer treatments. If you are being treated with chemotherapy, your doctor will likely monitor your blood cell counts regularly using CBCs.
Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a procedure being studied more frequently for its role in detecting breast cancer. Although the early results of breast MRI studies are encouraging, breast MRI should not be substituted for mammography for women at average risk for breast cancer. However, it may be an additional tool to screen for breast cancer in women at high risk for developing the disease.