Common Cancer Exams and Tests
* The following is not a complete list of tests for cancer. For more information, please visit each specific cancer type in our Cancer Encyclopedia.
Like symptoms, the signs of cancer vary based on the type and location of the tumor. Common tests include the following:
- Biopsy of the tumor
- Blood tests (which look for chemicals such as tumor markers)
- Bone marrow biopsy (for lymphoma or leukemia)
- Chest x-ray
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- CT scan
- MRI scan
Most cancers are diagnosed by biopsy. Depending on the location of the tumor, the biopsy may be a simple procedure or a serious operation. Most patients with cancer have CT scans to determine the exact location and size of the tumor or tumors.
A cancer diagnosis is difficult to cope with. It is important, however, that you discuss the type, size, and location of the cancer with your doctor when you are diagnosed. You also will want to ask about treatment options, along with their benefits and risks.
It's a good idea to have someone with you at the doctor's office to help you get through the diagnosis. If you have trouble asking questions after hearing about your diagnosis, the person you bring with you can ask them for you.