Doctors may suspect you have cancer based on:
To know for sure, doctors will do tests. They will diagnose (identify) your cancer using the test results.
Doctors will also do tests to see the stage of your cancer (stage I, stage II, stage III, or stage IV). Stages describe how big your cancer is and whether it has spread to other places in your body.
Screening tests are those your doctor does when you don't have any symptoms. Your doctor might suggest screening tests if you have a higher risk of having cancer based on your age, sex, family history, health, or lifestyle. Doctors use different screening tests for different cancers. Some screening tests can help save lives, but only certain screening tests are reliable.
Some common screening tests include:
Doctors can do screening tests:
Even if a screening test is positive, doctors usually can’t tell for sure if you have cancer. Doctors will do more specific tests to know whether you have cancer.
If doctors suspect cancer, they’ll usually do a test to take a picture of the inside of your body, such as an x-ray, ultrasound, or CT or MRI scan. To tell for sure, doctors will do:
When doctors diagnose your cancer, they’ll do tests to find out the stage. The stage tells them where and how large the cancer is. The stage also tells if the cancer has grown and spread into other parts of your body. Knowing the stage helps doctors decide the best treatment. Staging tests include:
Imaging tests, such as x-ray, CT and MRI scan, bones scans, and PET scans—your doctor will use some of these tests depending on the type of cancer
Biopsy from your tumor or tissues around your tumor
Blood tests to see if your liver, bones, and kidneys are working normally