When a particular sign or symptom may be related to cancer, the first step towards getting better is an accurate diagnosis. Although there are a number of tests and procedures that we use, diagnostic imaging is vital in the detection and diagnosis of cancer. In many cases, one or a combination of multiple medical imaging procedures can show the presence, size, shape and location of tumors or abnormalities in the body. In some cases, these tests can help to determine whether the problem is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign).
A final diagnosis of cancer cannot usually be made without a biopsy, which is an examination of cells or living tissue from an area suspected to be cancerous. A biopsy is the most definitive way to test for the presence of a malignant tumor and to determine what kind of cancer exists. Diagnostic imaging testing and a biopsy together are essential for developing an effective treatment plan.