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.
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.
omography) scans use x-rays
to take pictures from many angles. You may
be given dye (contrast material) for this type of
use radio waves and strong magnets to make
use a tracer to detect disease and take 3-D
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.
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
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.
Dealing with the diagnosis
How is cancer diagnosed?