Diagnostic Procedures and Staging Information

As new patient, you will receive several tests to help determine your cancer diagnosis. The following information will help you understanding the various tests we employ. If you have any questions, please speak with your physician.

Non-radiological procedures

  • Biopsy: The removal and examination, usually microscopic, of tissue from the living body, performed to establish precise diagnosis.
  • Blood lab work: Blood analysis to determine if patient meets the parameters for treatment.
  • Colonoscopy: An elongated flexible endoscope is used to permit visual examination of the entire colon.
  • Echocardiography: A method of graphically recording the position and motion of the heart walls or the internal structures of the heart and neighboring tissue.
  • Electrocardiogram: A graphic tracing of the variations in electrical potential caused by the excitation of the heart muscle and detected at the body surface.

Radiological procedures

  • Chest X-ray: Gamma rays which are reflected on a metal plate. X-rays can be taken of any area of the body, which can reveal suspicious areas.
  • CAT scan: A computerized axial tomography of a body organ under examination.
  • Ductography: A special type of contrast enhanced mammography used for imaging the breast ducts. It can aid in diagnosing breast cancer.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): A method of visualizing soft tissues of the body by applying an external magnetic field.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET): An imaging technique that assists physicians in the diagnosis and management of diseases. This process produces pictures of the functions of the human body unobtainable by other imaging techniques.
  • Ultrasound: A diagnostic imaging technique which uses high-frequency sound waves and a computer to create images of blood vessels, tissues, and organs. Ultrasounds are used to view internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow through various vessels

Staging information

The stage of a cancer tells whether the disease has spread and how far. The stage of your cancer will be an important factor in determining what treatment options are available to you.

When determining the stage of a cancer, doctors consider where the tumor is in the body, tumor size, number of tumors, and whether the lymph nodes (part of the body’s disease-fighting lymphatic system) are involved. They also look at the type and shape of the cancer cells and whether the disease has spread to other parts of the body.

Staging systems may be different for various types of cancer. For many cancers, however, the stages range from 0 to IV. These numbers generally mean:

  • Stage 0: The cancer is early. It has not grown beyond the layer of cells in which it began.
  • Stages I, II and III: The cancer has grown farther. The tumor is large, and/or it has spread to nearby parts of the body.
  • Stage IV: The cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Staging is important because it helps the doctor plan the patient’s treatment and predict how well the patient will respond to treatment. Staging also helps the doctor find clinical trials (research studies with people) that may be suitable for the patient.