Doctors use many tests to diagnose cancer and find out if it has metastasized (spread). Some tests may also determine which treatments may be the most effective. For most types of tumors, a biopsy is the only way to make a definitive diagnosis of cancer. If a biopsy is not possible, the doctor may suggest other tests that will help make a diagnosis. Imaging tests may be used to find out whether the cancer has metastasized. Your doctor may consider these factors when choosing a diagnostic test:
- Age and medical condition
- Type of cancer suspected
- Severity of symptoms
- Previous test results
In addition to a physical examination, the following tests may be used to diagnose a GTT:
Pelvic examination. The doctor may feel the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder, and rectum to check for lumps or any unusual changes.
Ultrasound. An ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the internal organs. In a transvaginal ultrasound, an ultrasound wand is inserted into the vagina and aimed at the uterus, to obtain the pictures.
Beta human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) blood test. Women who are pregnant produce high levels of the hormone beta hCG in their blood. High levels of beta hCG in a woman who is not pregnant could mean that a GTT is present.
X-ray. An x-ray is a way to create a picture of the structures inside of the body using a small amount of radiation.
Computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan. A CT scan creates a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed, cross-sectional view that shows any abnormalities or tumors. Sometimes, a contrast medium (a special dye) is injected into a patient's vein to provide better detail.
Learn more about what to expect when having common tests, procedures, and scans.
After these diagnostic tests are done, your doctor will review all of the results with you. If the diagnosis is cancer, these results also help the doctor describe the cancer; this is called staging. Learn more about the first steps to take after a diagnosis of cancer.