An accurate diagnosis is the first step in developing a personalized cancer treatment plan. At Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida, we give you access to the latest diagnostic testing methods for cancer, directed by physicians and staff who are specially trained in those techniques.
Miami Cancer Institute’s diagnostic team is comprised of physicians across many medical specialties, including radiation oncologists and pathologists. They use advanced procedures to identify the exact type, location, extent and stage of cancer. Their goal is to provide a precise diagnosis so you receive the most appropriate and effective cancer care.
Your care team at the Institute may recommend one or more of the following diagnostic testing methods to diagnose your condition and plan your treatment:
- Laboratory tests. These include blood tests and urine tests. Abnormal amounts of certain substances in your blood or urine can indicate cancer. A laboratory test almost always leads to an imaging test and biopsy to confirm your diagnosis.
- Imaging tests. Imaging tests use X-rays, sound waves or magnetic fields to create detailed pictures of the inside of the body. Radiation oncologists at the Institute use imaging tests to locate tumors and determine their size. This helps your cancer care team diagnose and stage the cancer and plan its treatment. Examples of imaging tests used to diagnose cancer include X-ray imaging, computed tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scan and nuclear medicine imaging.
- Biopsy. This is an examination of a tissue sample from the body. The tissue sample is usually taken from a tumor, a suspicious area on the skin, or another area within the body where there is unexplained infection or inflammation. At the Institute, pathologists who specialize in cancer examine biopsies to confirm if a tumor or suspicious area is cancerous. If cancer cells are present, they have the knowledge to identify the exact type or subtype of cancer and the cancer’s stage. There are many ways to do a biopsy. The method used depends on the location of the tissue sample and the size needed. Types of biopsies used for small tissue samples include fine needle aspiration biopsy, core needle biopsy, shave biopsy, punch biopsy, bone marrow biopsy and endoscopic biopsy. These do not require incisions. Surgical biopsies are performed when larger tissue samples are needed and include incisional biopsies (removal of part of a tumor) and excisional biopsies (all of the tumor is removed).
Your care team tells you what to expect before each test so you are prepared and comfortable. If cancer is found, repeat lab and imaging tests may be needed to monitor your progress after treatment begins and ends.