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18

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Care, Version 1.2017

in the blood. A blood chemistry panel may include

more than a dozen different tests. Several measures

will allow your doctor to track how your heart, liver,

kidneys, and other organs are working.

Imaging tests

When a tumor is suspected, doctors want to get a

look at exactly where it is and the size of it. Imaging

tests are used to take pictures (images) of the inside

of your body. Doctors can see the primary tumor and

look for cancer in other parts of your body.

Common imaging tests that take pictures of the inside

of your body are:

††

X-rays that use low-dose radiation to take one

picture at a time.

††

Ultrasounds that use high-energy sound

waves to make pictures.

††

CT (

c

omputed

t

omography) scans use x-rays

to take pictures from many angles. You may

be given dye (contrast material) for this type of

scan.

(Figure 4)

.

††

MRI (

m

agnetic

r

esonance

i

maging) scans

use radio waves and strong magnets to make

detailed pictures.

††

PET (

p

ositron

e

mission

t

omography) scans

use a tracer to detect disease and take 3-D

pictures.

The pictures made during imaging tests will be

reviewed by a radiologist, who will provide your doctor

with a report on what the tests show. A radiologist is

a doctor who’s an expert in reading imaging tests. It

may take several days to get this report.

Biopsies

Blood tests and imaging studies can tell a doctor

only so much about the possibility of cancer. The

only way to be sure about what is going on is to

look at the cells themselves. That means removing

some suspicious tissue that can be looked at by a

pathologist. The tissue will be tested for cancer cells.

This removal of tissue is called a biopsy. A pathologist

is a doctor who’s an expert in testing cells to find

disease.

Figure 4. CT scan

A CT scan machine is large

and has a tunnel in the

middle. During the test, you

will lie on a table that moves

slowly through the tunnel.

2

Dealing with the diagnosis

How is cancer diagnosed?