MSK Rapid Diagnosis for Faster Cancer Treatment

MSK Rapid Diagnosis for Faster Cancer Treatment

MSK patient Kieran

Kieran Healy says getting access to MSK was easier and faster than he expected. Within 10 days of his first appointment, Kieran was diagnosed and started treatment for diffuse large B cell lymphoma. He also had the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial right away. Now his cancer is in remission.

The Importance of a Fast and Accurate Cancer Diagnosis

One of the keys to diagnosing cancer accurately and quickly is to come to the right place first. Quickly getting the correct diagnosis will put you on the right treatment path, designed especially for you.

You can get easier access to the experts and treatment resources at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) through our Rapid Diagnosis service. 

Getting a Fast and Accurate Cancer Diagnosis at MSK

MSK can offer you a clear path to comprehensive world-class care by providing a rapid biopsy and diagnosis — particularly if you have imaging scans that show signs of cancer but you haven’t received an initial diagnosis. The scans we review are from computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound tests. 

How Does an MSK Rapid Diagnosis Work?

The first step is a biopsy. This procedure is done to take samples of tissue or cells to check for cancer. Biopsies in the Rapid Diagnosis program are done by our expert interventional radiologists. This type of cancer doctor has special training in precise image-guided procedures.

Guided by precise imaging during your biopsy, your doctor will use a needle that goes through your skin. They will carefully remove a small amount of tissue from an area of your body. Our expert pathologists will examine the sample. A pathologist is a doctor who looks at cells through a microscope to make a diagnosis. 

Most biopsies take less than an hour. You will get medication so you’re comfortable during this minor procedure. We will cover the biopsy area with a small bandage, and you can go home the same day.  

If your biopsy or other test results show signs of cancer, our team will:

  • Give you an accurate diagnosis right away.
  • Quickly refer you to MSK medical, surgical, or radiation oncology experts for treatment.

How Quickly Can I Receive a Diagnostic Biopsy Appointment?

If MSK is in your insurer’s network and you have imaging scans, you often can get biopsy appointments within 2 business days. In some cases, you may be able to email your digital scans to us before your appointment. If MSK is not in-network but your health plan has out-of-network benefits, insurance approval can take a little longer. 

  • Almost 33% (33 out of every 100 people) have the procedure 1 day after their doctor visit.
  • Generally, we provide a diagnosis and start you on the road to treatment and recovery within 1 week after your biopsy results.

Why Choose MSK for Rapid Cancer Biopsy, Diagnosis, and Treatment?

Technologically Advanced Labs

You will be seeing the best interventional radiologists. You also will have access to our molecular diagnostic services, with 3 laboratories that specialize in molecular diagnostics. They use the most advanced technology to perform a wide range of molecular and cytogenetic studies.

Genetic Testing Supports the Best Treatment Plan

Our Pathology team is fully focused on cancer and our lab uses a patented, U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved test called MSK-IMPACT®. It tests tumors for 500 gene mutations linked to both common and rare cancer types so you can be treated with the most precise therapy first and experience fewer side effects.

Teamwork Among Diagnostic Experts

Our highly skilled interventional radiologists and world-class pathologists work closely together to eliminate or greatly reduce the need for repeat biopsies.

Results in About a Week

We focus on analyzing tissue samples of solid tumors and lymphomas. Usually we understand within 1 week whether to refer you to our medical, surgical, or radiation oncology teams for treatment.  

Specialists To Treat Your Exact Cancer

Once you have your biopsy results, the world’s top experts in treating 400 types of cancer will match you with a specialist in the kind of cancer you have. Then they will customize a care plan specifically for you.

The Interventional Radiology team at MSK is led by Stephen B. Solomon, MD. Our internal medicine doctors, led by Robert Sidlow, MD, MBA, and patient and caregiver support teams will also ensure that you are safe and highly cared for at every step of the way — through biopsy, diagnosis, and treatment.

MSK Performs More Biopsies Than Any Other Center in the New York Metropolitan Area

MSK physicians are incredibly skilled at diagnosing even the smallest or most challenging cases. In the procedure room, we have a pathology assessment to make sure the samples are most likely to contain “the answer.” During the procedure, MSK sedation nurses and anesthesia providers will make you as comfortable as possible.

Rapid Diagnosis procedures can be scheduled at MSK locations in New York City and throughout the tristate area: MSK Commack, MSK Monmouth, and MSK Westchester.

Rapid Biopsy and Cancer Diagnosis Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few frequently asked questions and answers about our Rapid Diagnosis program.

Is this service for patients with all types of suspected cancer, including disease limited to the breast and prostate?

We do not offer Rapid Diagnosis appointments for prostate cancer or breast cancer. 

There is a separate program for patients with suspicious breast imaging including mammograms, breast ultrasounds and breast MRI. Please call 646-888-5349 for specific guidance on how to participate in the breast diagnosis program.

For prostate cancer, MSK’s team includes specialists in medical oncology, radiation oncology, urology, urologic surgery, pathology, and radiology. For guidance on scheduling with one of these specialties, please call: 877-357-1264.

What does having a single mass or abnormality that may be cancerous mean?

It means that you have an area or organ in your body that should be tested for possible cancer. An imaging scan your doctor ordered may have shown signs of cancer. A biopsy, like MSK’s Rapid Diagnosis biopsy, gives us a sample that allows doctors to understand what’s going on in your body. Then we can provide an accurate diagnosis, so that you can be treated quickly and effectively. 

You can obtain a biopsy and learn your diagnosis quickly by contacting our Care Advisors at 833-347-1665 to set up an appointment. We’re available Monday to Friday, to (Eastern time).

What does it mean if my doctor told me I have metastatic cancer (or multiple tumors), but that I need a confirmed diagnosis?

This means you have cancer that has spread (or metastasized) to other parts of your body. Your doctor wants to understand how severely it has spread in order to make an accurate diagnosis.

An imaging scan may have shown multiple masses in one or more organs. A biopsy sample allows doctors to understand what’s going on in your body and provide this critical diagnosis so that you can be treated quickly and effectively.

You can obtain a biopsy and learn your diagnosis quickly by contacting our Care Advisors at 833-347-1665 to set up an appointment. We’re available Monday to Friday, to (Eastern time).

What is the waiting time for a biopsy appointment?

If MSK is in your insurer’s network and you have imaging scans, you can get a biopsy appointment often within 2 business days. If MSK is not in-network but your health plan has out-of-network benefits, approval can take a little longer. After we get approval from your insurer, we can schedule your appointment.

What should I bring to my scheduled biopsy appointment?

Bring your health insurance card and image scans to the appointment (or, if available, email them to our Care Advisor ahead of time). The images will help our pathologists understand the extent of cancer spread and can help them rule out a rare tumor. Also bring an accurate list of medications you currently take so that our team can safely care for you.

How long do biopsy results take?

Once our interventional radiologist has obtained your biopsy sample and you are finished with the appointment, our pathologists will need approximately 1 week to analyze your sample and prepare a diagnostic report.

If I have a cancer diagnosis, what will my biopsy results reveal?

If cancer is diagnosed, the pathology report based on your biopsy results will provide specific information about the characteristics of the cancer cells. This helps your doctor recommend the best treatment options for you. The report details the type of cancer involved and how far the cancer has spread into surrounding healthy tissue in your body.

Our pathologists will study the genetics of the specific type of cancer you have. That lets them make a personalized treatment just for you.