How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

When it comes to diagnosing cancer, it can often be really difficult or really easy. This is due to the large amount of types of cancer that exist. Some cancers are hardly able to be noticed during their early stages due to lack of symptoms and only really start to become a problem once they have spread. Unfortunately by this time it can be too late for some.

Other times cancer can be found by mistake when carrying out routine tests, or when accidently stumbling across a random lump on the body.

The cancers which are probably easier to find are the ones which can be seen by the naked eye, therefore on the skin, i.e. lumps or moles which change colour. Others that can be felt are also easier to detect as they can be checked easier and immediately something can be done to discover if they are cancerous or not.

Fortunately nowadays, there are many options put in place which help us to detect if cancer is present. This includes things such as screening tests as well as diagnostic tests. These types of tests can help save so many lives as they are able to detect cancer in its earlier stages, which helps to better prevent it from spreading.

Screening tests

Screening tests work to find cancer in its early stages, in order to prevent it from growing and spreading further. There are a number of different screening tests available. One of these includes the smear test which used to test for cervical cancer, and is useful for picking up cells with abnormalities before they turn cancerous.

According to the NHS UK, 1 in 8 British women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. It also tends to occur in the later stages of life rather than happening from a young age. Screening tests such as the mammogram are offered to women over 40, and are extremely useful at detecting breast cancer.

The benefits of this test are that women with breast cancer are less likely to need a mastectomy or chemotherapy when cancer is detected in time, so this type of screening is definitely important to do. Another screening test such as the faecal occult blood test can help to detect traces of blood in stools which can help to see if further tests are needed for bowl cancer.

People who show no symptoms of being ill are the perfect candidates for screening tests, and usually when you feel worried that you may be showing any symptoms, it’s best to go directly to your GP.

Cancer symptoms can often be difficult to notice and easily linked to other illnesses, but mainly include:

– Unusual weight loss
– Changes in bowel habits
– Sores which don’t heal
– A cough lasting longer than usual
– Abnormal bleeding or discharge
– Indigestion & difficulties swallowing

Diagnostic tests

The other tests which are available for cancer diagnosis are the diagnostic tests. These include looking further and in more detail and depend on the symptoms the patient is experiencing. These types of tests include X-rays, CT scans, MRI and ultrasound which all take pictures of the inside of the body. These procedures are painless, and can be very useful when it comes to making a proper diagnosis.

There are also examinations which can be carried out for internal examination. This is the method of inserting a tube internally to take a look in more detail. The bronchoscopy test is one of these which examines the respiratory system. A colonoscopy takes a look at the colon and a laparoscopy examines for abdominal issues.

Experts will carry out the majority of these jobs, and so you will always be in safe hands when having any diagnostic tests performed.

A final method which is not guaranteed for diagnosing all cancers is blood tests, however these can be best when diagnosing leukaemia as it is detected in the cells.

Therefore, whether it is your doctor who diagnosis your cancer, or through one of the tests mentioned above, there is definitely more than one way to diagnose it. It is even possible to diagnose it yourself by always checking your body and making sure nothing new has changed or appeared.