There are a range of tests that are used to help diagnose cancer and to monitor the effectiveness of treatment. The most common methods are:
A sample of the tumour is removed and looked at under a microscope.
Bone Marrow Biopsy
A bone marrow biopsy is a procedure frequently performed to aid in the diagnosis and staging of many blood conditions. The bone marrow biopsy is almost always taken from the back of the pelvis bone where the large bone of the iliac crest is readily and safely accessible. Rarely, there may be a need to do the biopsy from the front (anterior iliac crest), or even the sternum (breast bone).
More sensitive than a standard X-ray
Computed Tomography (CT) scan
A CT scan is a medical imaging procedure that uses x-rays and digital computer technology to create 2D or 3D images of the body. Unlike other forms of medical imaging, CT can make an image of every type of body structure at once, including bone, blood vessels and soft tissue.CT scans can be used to diagnose cancer and plan surgeries or radiation therapy treatments. CT scans are also used to monitor response to cancer treatment. CT can be used as a visual aid for procedures, such as biopsies, that go inside the body, to ensure correct placement.
A very fine needle is inserted between two vertebrae in your back and some fluid is removed
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI is used to visualise internal structures of the body in detail. MRI can create more detailed images of some parts of the human body than are possible with x-rays.
A low dose X-ray of the breast
Cells are taken from the cervix and examined under a microscope
Pathology is a medical specialty about the study and causes of disease and is integral to the diagnosis of every cancer.Pathologists can also examine changes in tissue, blood and other bodily fluid samples to gain an understanding of the potential for disease development, the cause or severity of disease and/or to monitor the progress of disease, effectiveness of treatment and your general health.The Pathology team uses blood and other tissue samples to help diagnose the tumour type and can also help determine a likely prognosis and inform clinicians about the most appropriate management for a cancer.
Position Emission Tomography (PET) scan
A PET scan is an imaging procedure showing the chemical function of an organ or tissue, rather than its structure.PET is extremely sensitive for detecting the early stages of disease and can detect abnormalities even in the absence of structural changes. Small amounts of tumour may be found using PET, even if they are undetectable by other imaging procedures, which can have an important impact on choosing the best treatment option.PET information can be used to determine what combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy is most likely to be successful in managing your cancer. PET can also help to monitor the effectiveness of therapy and assist planning for surgery and radiation therapy.WH does not have a PET machine however if you require a PET scan, your doctor will arrange for this at another centre.
Pulmonary function test
A test of the lungs to see how well they are functioning
Ultrasound is a scan that uses high frequency sound waves to show internal body structures. The most common uses for ultrasound at include breast and abdominal imaging. Ultrasound is also used for core biopsies (e.g. breast, abdominal); fine needle aspirations – in particular, head and neck nodes, and superficial lesions; breast hookwire localisation; pleural and ascites aspirations and abscess drainage.
Images taken using a form of electromagnetic radiation