Cancer has been one of the major killers in the world, which is why many people are looking at ways to treat and prevent this disease. However, what’s more troubling is that the exact cause and cure for any type of cancer may still remain in question.
Luckily, even if the exact cure for cancer is still unknown, doctors may prevent it from becoming too deadly by detecting it at its early stages. This is where modern technology and other common procedures come to the rescue. So, to help the healthcare professionals out, they’ll perform any of these three practices to detect cancer.
1. Radiology/Imaging Tests
Radiology is an important branch of medicine that’s dedicated to imaging body parts in order to detect any growths or suspicious changes. The doctor will choose the proper procedure for you, depending on your health situation and requirements. These procedures and scanning tests have proven their ability to detect cancer throughout history.
Here’s a quick run-through on these common practices in radiology that may help detect cancer:
- MRI Scan
An MRI scan is an imaging method used to create pictures of the entire structure of a body part. MRI scanners employ high-frequency magnetic fields, radio waves, and strong magnet gradients to produce images of various organs in the human body. These images can be of diagnostic value, especially when doctors are treating cancer or tumors.
In order for the MRI to work, the patient lies flat on their back while a special device, the MRI coil, is wrapped around the head, neck, or any other important part of the patient’s body. The MRI coil is then attached to the computer screen of an MRI machine. The computer uses the scan results to calculate a magnetic field or gradient that’ll determine the shape and density of any abnormal object in the body. If needed, a contrast material might be injected to help the MRI produce a clearer image.
With those things being said, the benefit of a full body MRI can go a long way in detecting cancer in the earliest time possible. For one, when you get a full body MRI, you don’t need to be exposed to too much radiation, which is completely safe for you and your overall health.
An endoscopic procedure is used in medicine to view the inside of an organ through an incision made along the esophageal wall. An endoscope is much more sophisticated than other forms of medical imaging and is considered one of the most successful procedures used today.
Here are some types of endoscopy that vary on the organ being screened:
- Rhinoscopy – nose; respiratory tract
- Otoscopy – ear
- Cystoscopy – urinary tract
- Laparoscopy – abdominal
- Colonoscopy – large intestine/colon
While many people view endoscopic procedures as invasive or frightening, an endoscopy is, generally, quite safe, especially when it’s performed by a qualified and experienced doctor. Always consult with your doctor about the procedure, the potential risks that may occur after the scanning is done, and, most importantly, how you can prepare for this.
- Computer Tomography
A Computed Tomography (CT) scan is an imaging technique that utilizes computer-generated combinations of X-ray images taken at several different angles, allowing the doctor to view the patient’s body without actually cutting it.
When a CT scan is performed, the computer converts the images taken by the X-rays into images that can be viewed by the computerized equipment within the CT scanner. The images produced are often used to create a virtual image of the organ that the patient is being scanned for.
Computer tomography scanning is becoming increasingly popular due to the benefits it offers. For one, doctors use CT scans to determine whether a patient is suffering from a serious infection, such as pneumonia or if they may have cancer, allowing doctors to determine whether they should begin a course of chemotherapy. A CT scan may also help predict the outcome of a certain operation or procedure. Lastly, it can be used in conjunction with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
In addition to x-rays, using ultrasound is also a common practice to detect any type of cancer. It can help doctors and other medical practitioners to look for cancer-causing tumors in specific areas of your body that can’t be detected using x-rays.
When you undergo an ultrasound for cancer, images called sonograms will be created by generating high-frequency sound waves that go inside your body. As the sound waves touch the organs and tissues, they produce echoes that the machine then converts into real-time pictures, showing organ movement and structure, as well as blood flow.
Moreover, using ultrasound can be effective when distinguishing fluid-filled cysts from solid tumors since they create different echo patterns. It can also be helpful in some situations as it can be performed quickly and doesn’t require radiation exposure.
2. Laboratory Tests
Aside from imaging tests, laboratory tests are also a common practice that can help detect the development of cancer. By subjecting yourself to blood and urine tests may help your doctor find out any abnormalities that may be caused by cancer-causing compounds.
For example, in patients with leukemia or cancer of the blood, conducting a complete blood count may show an unusual number of white blood cells inside your body. This is how laboratory tests may help determine whether you have a risk of cancer.
Another common practice being used for cancer detection is a biopsy. It refers to a process of extracting a sample of cells or tissues to determine the presence of a certain type of cancer and its location. Depending on your health condition, there are different types of biopsy to choose from, including a needle biopsy, endoscopic biopsy, scraping cells, punch, biopsy, and many more.
Regardless of the method used, the doctor, after collecting the sample, will check it under the microscope. When the cells look are uniformed, they’re normal and healthy. But when the cells come in varying sizes and are disorganized, they may be cancerous, which requires immediate diagnosis and treatment.
Indeed, fighting off cancer can be a tough experience. Thus, if you think you’re dealing with some symptoms of cancer, it’s important to talk to your doctor and get a proper diagnosis and treatment. The earlier you get the diagnosis, the better chance you have of stopping cancer from getting worse.
Fortunately, with the common practices mentioned above, you can detect cancer as early as you can, prolonging your life and treating the disease properly.