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.
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(National Cancer Institute, n.d.)
(American Cancer Society, n.d.)