What is medical imaging in cancer diagnosis

Cancer Diagnosis: How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

Doctors now have many methods of diagnosing cancer at their disposal. These include imaging procedures, endoscopy and laboratory tests. However, these procedures are not enough to assess the nature of the disease and how it is spreading in the body.

Rather, it is crucial for cancer diagnosis Investigation of Tissue samples by the pathologist. The cancer diagnosis is only confirmed when the pathologist has discovered tumor cells during the histological examination.

Imaging techniques to diagnose cancer

The generic term "imaging procedures" refers to all examination methods that the doctor can use look inside the body can. The oldest imaging method is the examination with X-rays. Newer imaging methods are computed tomography, magnetic resonance tomography, ultrasound diagnostics, scintigraphy, positron emission tomography and endoscopy.


Computer tomograph

Collection and examination of tissue samples for cancer diagnosis

Whether a suspicious change - for example a lump in the breast - contains cancer cells can only be determined by the Taking a tissue sample which is examined histologically (tissue) by the pathologist under the microscope. The taking of such tissue samples from patients is called “biopsy” in technical terms (Greek “bio” = living, “opsis” = to look at).

There are several methods of obtaining a sample through the biopsy:

  • With a hollow needle: After a local anesthetic, the doctor sticks a hollow needle into the tissue and can then punch out a tissue cylinder (punch biopsy) or suck it in (fine needle biopsy)
  • With a scalpel: excisional biopsy
  • Endoscopically with tiny forceps
  • Smears on mucous membranes (e.g. cervix) (only single cells)
  • From body fluids (single cells only)

Laboratory tests to diagnose cancer

The various examinations that can be used to confirm or rule out cancer also include Analyzes of blood, urine and other body fluids in the laboratory. Basically, the doctor will do a blood count and determine the number of red and white blood cells and platelets. But there are numerous other values ​​that he can investigate. These include the so-called tumor markers.