The Many Tests and Procedures of Cancer 

The Many Tests and Procedures of Cancer

Summary: This article discusses the many different tests and procedures that are done during the treatment of different cancers throughout the body. While some tests are there for early detection for the best outcome possible, other tests can help to determine which treatments would work on your specific kind or type of cancer. This list is always being updated with new tests and procedures. Contact your doctor with questions about specific tests.

There are a myriad of different tests that doctors and specialists refer to when diagnosing, dealing with, and treating different cancers. On top of testing to determine which type of cancer you might have, there are also tests to determine the stage and grade of your cancer. The types of tests recommended may differ due to your age, medical conditions, suspected type of cancer, symptoms being experienced, and any other lab tests to determine blood levels and cell counts that may be needed. These tests are also very beneficial in helping to track the progress of the cancer spreading, or to show the tumor and growths are being controlled and taken care of properly.

Here are descriptions of the common tests done in the maintenance and treatment of cancer.

  – Barium enemas are done to help doctors view the insides of your body. After being injected with the fluids, an x-ray of the colon and rectum can be completed, and the contrast solution will show any abnormalities.

  – Biopsy is a collection of tissues from a suspected cancer that is examined under a microscope. This sample is most often collected with a needle and done during surgery, endoscopy, or on its own.

  – Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy is a specific type of fluid aspiration or a small, solid piece of tissue removed from the bone marrow during a biopsy. This test tells doctors which type of suspected blood cancer you might have.

  – Bone scan is a test that looks for cancer that has started to spread in to the bones. This is done by injecting a small amount of radioactive substances into the vein. After the injection, a machine that measures the radioactivity within the body.

  – Colonoscopy is done in the rectum and anal region and happens when a thin, flexible tube with light and camera inserted into the rectum and moved through the large intestines to look for colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps.

  – Computer tomography scan is also referred to as a CT scan, which is an x-ray machine used to create three dimensional images.

  – Digital Rectal exams are done in office by your doctor when they need a visual examination of the anus and internal anal area. Your doctor will use a gloved, lubricated finger and insert it into the anus to feel for any abnormalities.

  – EKGs and Echocardiograms are done to measure the electrical energy in the heart. This test is done at any time during cancer treatment and recovery.

  – Endoscopies are done to get an internal view of your gastrointestinal tract and system. By placing a thin tube down the throat, your doctor can view the esophagus, stomach, colon, ear, nose, throat, heart, urinary tract, joints and abdomen. These tests are usually done when a patient is placed under a local anesthesia to help ease nerves.

  – Fecal occult blood test is a screening test for colorectal cancer which is done to check for hidden blood in the stool.

  – Lab tests are done to monitor blood levels, organ function, and general body function. Blood tests and lab tests can be the first and easiest line of defense in determining which cancers might be affecting you.

  – Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) uses magnets to create a magnetic field and paired with the computer technology, creates a three-dimensional diagnostic image of your body tissues to note any abnormalities.

  – Mammography is a low dose x-ray style test that that looks for changes in breast tissue.

  – Muga scan is a test done to scan for radioactive tracers that show how the heart is pumping blood with each heartbeat. This test is required during certain chemotherapy treatments to ensure there is no heart damage being done.

  – Pap test, or pap smear, is a swab of cells taken from a woman’s cervix and tests for precancerous and cancerous cells.

  – Positron-emission tomography, or PET scan, involves the injection of a radioactive tracer that is picked up by more organs and tissues that have cancer than a computer or technology can pick up on a regular x-ray or scan. This is often combined with a CT scan and part of standard chemotherapy treatment.

  – Sigmoidoscopy is done by inserting a thin, flexible tube with a light and camera that is inserted to the rectum and used to visualize a portion of the colon and rectum.

  – Stool tests are done to help determine and measure DNA biomarkers and can indicate a greater risk of colon cancer.

  – Tumor Genomics are types of genetic testing for specific types of tumors.

  – Tumor markers are substances measured in the blood, urine or body tissues that are used to monitor how the cancer treatment is working. Higher levels of these markers often signify cancer.

  – Ultrasounds are imaging tests used for a myriad of medical maladies. It is a high-frequency sound wave machine that creates pictures of internal organs and tissues. It does not emit ionizing radiation like an x-ray and poses little danger to the body.

Other tests that are more controversial and not as common are:

  – Chemosensitivity testing is a type of testing that uses your tumor cells in a laboratory to test the specific cells to certain types of cancer treatment.

  – Anti-malignin antibody serum test is a test that is aimed for early detection. This is an older test that has been slightly outdated by newer, more advanced testing. For the purposes of education, it is on this list of treatments.

  – Circulating tumor DNA is the genetic material that mutates and causes the oncogenes, or cancer, to grow in the first place. It can be found in the bloodstream and has become a more common method for profiling different cancers.

  – Human chorionic gonadotropin is a hormone normally produced by the placenta and is the basis for most positive pregnancy tests. These levels can also be seen rising in some cancerous tumors and can be a real trigger for exaggerated cancer growth.

  – Oncoblot test is a test that reveals the origin of the ENOX2 protein, which is a sign in a cell of abnormal growth. This is a great test used in early detection.

  – Transforming growth factor-beta is an ongoing test that monitors inflammatory and tumor-specific progress or treatment. This test also helps tracks progress in cancers being treated with medications or chemotherapy.

  – TK-1 Testing, or thymidine kinase, plays a key hand in the role of tissue metabolism in acute or pathological tissue stressors. Patients who have this most likely have rapid progression and generally worse outcomes. This test is also used to track cancer progress during active treatment sessions.

These are only some of the tests done to treat and monitor different cancers throughout the body. This list is always being updated with new advances and new findings in science and technology and how it all pertains to the medical field. If you have questions about tests that might be required for you during your cancer treatment and monitoring process, do not hesitate to discuss with your medical care team of your concerns.

Resources Used:

Stengler MD (ISBN# 9781401954581)



Medical Dictionary

Reclaiming Intimacy

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