Cancer detection and diagnosis

A variety of methods are used to detect and diagnose cancer. Your doctor may send you for one or several of these tests depending on your needs.

General radiography (X-ray)

An X-ray is one of the oldest forms of medical imaging, and despite all the newer, more sophisticated forms of scanning, it is still one of the most sensitive ways of detecting many problems.

Blood tests

Blood tests form an important part of diagnosing cancer and monitoring how patients are responding to treatment. By examining samples of your blood, healthcare professionals can learn about your general health as well.

CT scan

Computerised tomography (CT) scans are investigations that can be used to help to make a diagnosis or assess the effects of treatment. Your doctor will recommend a CT scan based on the type of cancer you have and the information needed to plan your treatment.


A mammogram is a special X-ray of the breast designed to to detect or diagnose breast cancer.

MRI scan

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanners build up detailed pictures by using a strong magnetic field to read the signal sent out by the water molecules within the body.

Nuclear medicine

Nuclear medicine is a technique that allows doctors to assess the function of different parts of the body. It can be used in the detection and diagnosis of cancer.

PET/CT scan

A PET/CT scan uses two different forms of medical imaging at the same time - positron emission tomography (PET) and computerised tomography (CT) - in the detection and diagnosis of cancer.


An ultrasound scan builds up pictures of organs and areas inside the body using sound waves. Ultrasound scans (sometimes combined with biopsies or fine needle aspirates (FNA)) can be used in the detection and diagnosis of cancer.

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