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Know the Types of Cancer Tests and Examination Procedures

Cancer is a type of disease that grows slowly, is rarely detected, and when it is severe it can be life threatening. Therefore, early cancer screening must be done so that this disease can be identified and treated immediately. What are the types of examinations to detect cancer in the body? Check the explanation below.

Know the Types of Cancer Tests and Examination Procedures

Types of Tests to Diagnose Cancer

Cancer It can attack various cells in the body. Unfortunately, not all types of cancer can be prevented. That’s why, you need to undergo a cancer test if you experience symptoms of cancer or something abnormal in the body.

According to American Cancer SocietyThere are three types of cancer screening, including:

1. Imaging Test

This test functions to help doctors see conditions in the body using the help of X-ray energy, radioactive particles, sound waves, and magnets.

This procedure may need to be done several times to see the development of the tumor during the treatment period and determine whether or not the treatment is effective.

This examination itself has several types, including:

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) Scans

CT scans allow doctors to find the location, shape, and size of the cancer. Generally, this test is recommended as an outpatient procedure. Besides being painless, this examination only takes about 5-10 minutes.

This test shows the whole body, from bones, organs, soft tissues, to blood vessels more clearly than x-ray standard.

CT scans uses a thin beam of light to create a series of images which are then displayed on a computer screen.

Side effects that may occur after this examination are nausea, shortness of breath, rashes on the skin, or swelling of the face which can last more than 1 hour.

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Scans

Another option to check for the presence or absence of cancer cells in the body is an MRI scan. Unlike CT scans, MRIs does not use ionizing radiation. An MRI examination is performed using a strong magnet and radio waves to obtain body images.

The image of the body part will be used to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy tissue.

If a CT scan takes 5 – 10 minutes, an MRI usually takes up to half an hour or longer depending on the procedure.

The procedure is performed by asking the patient to lie down on a special bed connected to an MRI machine.

  • X-Ray Examination (X-Ray)

This examination serves to help doctors find cancer cells in bones, stomach organs, and kidneys.

In this procedure, an iodine-based contrast medium, such as barium, is used to make the organs appear clearer on X-rays. One type of x-ray examination used to test for breast cancer is mammography.

Usually the patient is asked to be in front of the x-ray machine so that the light can point to the body part to be examined. During the examination, the patient will be asked to remain still and hold their breath for 1-2 seconds.

Also Read: 11 Important Steps in Addressing a Cancer Diagnosis

If the imaging results x-ray If it doesn’t seem so clear, the doctor may suggest an ultrasound to find the location of the cancer. This type of cancer screening uses high-frequency sound waves that pass through the body to produce images.

This tool can be inserted into the esophagus, rectum, and vagina. Even so, ultrasound is a safe test and the side effects are very small.

Unfortunately, the results of ultrasound scans are not as detailed as CT or MRI scans, moreover, sound waves cannot penetrate the lungs and bones.

This type of cancer screening is used to detect the spread of cancer.

There are several nuclear scans that are usually used to detect cancer, namely bone scans for bone cancer, thyroid scans for thyroid cancer, PET scans, Gallium scans, and MUGA scans (multigated acquisition).

Before the scan, the patient will usually be injected with a radioactive substance into his vein. This substance will then flow through the blood vessels to the damaged bone. That way, the part of the bone affected by the cancer will be seen more clearly during the scan.

The duration of the examination takes 20 minutes-3 hours, even more depending on the procedure performed by the medical team.

2. Endoscopic procedures

Endoscopy uses a medical device in the form of an endoscope to view the internal organs in the body. This tool is in the form of a long, thin, and flexible hose equipped with a light source and a camera at the end.

Endoscopy is performed by inserting an endoscope through one of the body cavities. This examination has several types depending on the body part examined, such as:

  • Bronchoscopyto look for blockages in the airways such as tumors.
  • Laparoscopyto find out the cause of hip pain and take tissue samples from the tumor for cervical cancer, ovarian cancerand uterine cancer.
  • Colonoscopyto find out the cause of the drastic weight loss, or changes in bowel habits that are characteristic of colorectal cancer.
  • Cystoscopy, to determine whether or not cancer is present in the bladder and urethra area. Sometimes, this test procedure is used to remove small tumors in the area.

In general, endoscopy is relatively safe. However, in some cases there are several endoscopic procedures that have the potential to become unsafe due to other complications such as bleeding, infection, perforation, and pancreatitis.

Also Read: Recognizing the Difference between Malignant Tumors and Benign Tumors

3. Biopsy

A biopsy is a procedure to take a tissue sample from inside the body, to later observe the sample in the laboratory. That way the doctor can know for sure whether or not cancer cells are present.

Biopsy is one of the accurate cancer tests and the results of the diagnosis are certain (cancer). For this reason, a biopsy is often combined with other cancer screening tests.

There are several types of biopsy tests, including:

  • Needle Biopsy (Needle Biopsy). This examination test relies on a special needle to suck out cells or tissue that have the potential to become cancerous. This procedure is usually used to treat breast lumps or enlarged lymph nodes.
  • Surgical Biopsy (Surgical Biopsy). This procedure is generally recommended by doctors to remove part of the abnormal cell area.
  • Bone Marrow Biopsy (Bone Marrow Biopsy). This test can be recommended by a doctor if abnormalities are detected in the blood or there is a possibility that the cancer has spread to other body tissues. For example, in the case of blood cancer.
  • Endoscopic Biopsy (Endoscopic Biopsy). This cancer test uses a thin flexible tube (endoscope) complete with a light on the end so that it helps the doctor see the condition of the inside of the body.

In addition to the several types of tests mentioned above, there are also blood tests such as tumor markers which serve as an early detection (screening) test for cancer.

Furthermore, there are several types of blood tests (hematology) that are more specific if cancer is suspected in a certain location, for example the CA-125 examination for ovarian cancer and so on.

Now, those are several types of tests to diagnose the presence or absence of cancer cells in the body. Before having the test, you may need to stop taking certain medications to avoid complications or bleeding if surgery is performed.

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  2. Anonymous. CT Scan For Cancer. (Accessed February 27, 2023)
  3. Anonymous. 2015. X-rays and Other Radiographic Tests for Cancer. (Accessed February 27, 2023)
  4. Anonymous. 2015. Ultrasound for Cancer. (Accessed February 27, 2023)
  5. Anonymous. 2021. Biopsy: Types of Biopsy Procedures Used to Diagnose Cancer. (Accessed February 27, 2023)
  6. Hanson Gordon. 2017. 7 Types of Diagnostic Imaging Tests You May Assist as a Radiologic Technologist. (Accessed 27 February 2023)

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