The Process of Diagnosing Cancer

It is not a simple thing to diagnose cancer. The process involves several steps, beginning with an assessment of the patient’s medical history and a physical exam. If there is the possibility of cancer, Connecticut patients might want to be prepared for what to expect.

Many physicians who think that their patients may have cancer usually order blood tests, such as a count of electrolyte and blood cell levels. The types of cancer for which patients are tested determine the types of other testing that their doctors order. Imaging tests, such as ultrasounds, MRIs, X-rays and CT scans are common means that are used. Physicians often use radionuclide scanning to inspect areas that cannot be seen very well, such as inside lymph nodes and bones. Radionuclide scanning involves the intravenous injection or ingestion of a radioactive material that can be identified in abnormal tissues.

While these tests can be good for determining whether there are abnormalities in a patient’s body, many physicians believe that the test results provide only speculative evidence for diagnosing cancer. A biopsy, or the gathering and testing of a tissue sample, is generally considered to provide the best evidence for a diagnosis of cancer and the type and stage of cancer. Some tissue samples are rather easy to get, such as those from the skin or intestines, while others are harder and require surgery, such as from lymph nodes or the brain. A surgical biopsy might cure the disease if all of the malignant tissue can be removed.

When a doctor fails to recognize the signs of cancer in a patient and gives a misdiagnosis, the patient might have a case for medical malpractice if negligence was involved and the misdiagnosis caused the patient injury and suffering. Patients who believe this has happened to them could ask lawyers if they have cases for compensation.

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