How Is Cancer Diagnosed? Part 2

How Is Cancer Diagnosed? Part 2

Jenni Daniel BSN, RN
Jenni Daniel BSN, RN
How is cancer diagnosed Part 2 | cancerGO

This is part two of two articles discussing ‘How Is Cancer Diagnosed?’.

A biopsy is many times the only way to tell for sure if you have cancer.  This will review the multiple types of biopsies your doctor may want to perform or send you.


A biopsy is a procedure where the doctor will remove a sample of your tissue.  Doctors need to do a biopsy to confirm cancer in most cases.  After the tissue is removed, it is placed under a microscope, looked at by a pathologist, while tests are done to see if the tissue is cancerous.  A report is produced, this is called a pathology report, giving details about the findings.  Pathology reports give important information about your specific cancer and are used to help decide treatment in a cancer diagnosis.

There are many ways a biopsy sample is obtained.

Using a needle:  A doctor can use a needle to get tissue or fluid.  This is used for some breast, prostate, liver biopsies, bone marrow aspirations, and spinal taps.

Using Endoscopy: A lighted, thin tube called an endoscope can go into your body’s natural openings, such as your mouth or anus, so the doctor can view the body tissue.  If abnormal tissue is seen, the doctor can remove this along with some of the normal tissue through the endoscope.

Endoscopy exams include a colonoscopy.  This is an exam of your colon and rectum.  The endoscopy goes through the anus which allows the rectum and colon to be examined.  Polyps, if found, can be removed and sent to a lab for testing.

Bronchoscopy is another exam using an endoscope.  This goes through the mouth or nose and down the throat.  This is an exam of the trachea, bronchi, and lungs.


A surgeon can remove abnormal cells during an operation or surgery.  There are two types of surgical biopsies, excisional and incisional.  During an excisional biopsy, the entire area of abnormal cells is removed by the surgeon.  Many times, some normal tissue around the cells is also removed.  During an incisional biopsy, the surgeon removes a part of the abnormal area.

Some surgery will require anesthesia or a sedative.  Anesthesia keeps you from feeling pain and includes using local, regional or general anesthesia.  Sedatives are medications that help you relax, stay still or sleep during the biopsy.

After A Cancer Diagnosis-

If your biopsy or other testing shows that you have cancer, sometimes more testing on the sample or tumor is needed to help your doctor come up with the best treatment plan.  The doctor needs to have the stage of your cancer and usually the grade of the tumor which are helpful in determining treatment.  The tumor may also be tested for other tumors or genetic markers.



Support yourself, and your mental health immediately. Reach out for tips on how, questions can be submitted to or go to


(National Cancer Institute, n.d.)

(American Cancer Society, n.d.)


Jenni Daniel BSN, RN
Jenni Daniel BSN, RN
Jenni Daniel has years of experience as an oncology nurse who is committed to supporting cancer patients and caregivers during one of the most challenging journeys of their life. Driven by her personal experiences she takes pride in providing support, education, and teaching the importance of self advocacy during healthcare encounters. As a Bachelors prepared nurse her goals include normalizing the conversations around cancer, helping people manage side effects from treatment, and supporting the mental health of people affected by this disease. By working virtually she is able to support people in over 37 states, and encourages compliance with providers’ recommendations. She has a passion to calm the fears and trauma caused by a cancer diagnosis, providing a safe place to heal and restore, using practical advice, encouragement, support, and even humor and accountability to make the journey less overwhelming. She provides education to understand what is happening to the physical body, while maintaining focus on mindset and keeping mental health a priority during each encounter.

Download our
mobile app

Share this post
You may also like
Preserving fertility before undergoing cancer treatment
March 1, 2023

Cancer treatment can significantly impact a person's fertility, of both sexes, particularly for young patients.  However, there are options available for those who wish to preserve their fertility before undergoing cancer treatment. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery, can damage the reproductive organs and potentially affect a…

Julie Scott, DNP


GIST(Gastrointestinal stromal tumor)- What You Need to Know
December 22, 2022

What is GIST? Gastrointestinal stromal tumor, also known as GIST, is a type of cancer that develops within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Most GIST cancers start in the stomach wall, but they can also start in the intestines, though this isn’t as common. Exactly why GISTs start to grow is…

Julie Scott, DNP


November 8, 2022

What is Melanoma? Melanoma is a cancer of the melanocytes, the pigment producing cells in the skin. Melanocytes can also be found in other areas outside of the skin, such as the eyes, genitals, and mouth, but melanoma most commonly develops in the skin.  Risk Factors The rates of melanoma…

Julie Scott, DNP


cancerGO gives you access to a community

Where are people to listen, answer questions, share information, and offer valuable and timely advice