How is cancer diagnosed?

Doctors will ask about your personal and family medical history, perform a physical exam and possibly order lab tests or other procedures including scans or a biopsy. Lab tests of the blood, urine, or other fluids can help doctors assess how well an organ (such as the kidney) is doing its job. Also, high amounts of some substances may be a sign of cancer. Imaging procedures create pictures of areas inside your body that help the doctor see whether a tumor is present. These pictures can be made in several ways:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • Ultrasound
  • MRI
  • PET scan

A biopsy is when a doctor removes a sample of tissue and sends it to a pathology lab for analysis.