Accurately diagnosing your cancer is crucial to deciding which care plan will be most effective for you. In addition to a physical examination, doctors use the results of many tests such as blood and imaging tests and biopsies to diagnose cancer and find out if it has spread to other parts of the body.
Our radiologists use the most advanced imaging technologies to safely detect cancer, and our pathologists employ sophisticated techniques to precisely pinpoint the type and extent (or stage) of disease you have.
Because our sole focus is and always has been cancer, we bring a tremendous amount of experience to the diagnosis of all types of the disease, even in its rarest forms. And like our oncologists, our radiologists and pathologists are all subspecialized experts in their respective fields. For example, members of our Hematopathology Service use advanced tests designed specifically to diagnose diseases of the blood, blood-forming cells, and tissues and organs that make up the lymphatic system.
Our researchers developed and are now using a tool called MSK-IMPACT™ that tests individual tumor samples for genetic mutations, then correlates the findings with clinical data on how well such a tumor might respond to treatments.
Newer technologies, some of which were developed or improved at MSK, are enhancing our ability to accurately diagnose cancer and make more informed treatment recommendations. Genetic sequencing, for instance, can zero in on specific genetic abnormalities that drive the growth of cancer cells and may be targeted with certain forms of drug-based therapies.
In addition, special blood tests that measure tumor markers released by cancer cells (and sometimes by healthy cells) in the blood may be used to diagnose cancer or detect its return, plan and monitor treatment, or predict prognosis.