Cancer is diagnosed by a medical history; physical exam; diagnostic tests, including blood and urine tests; and imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI or PET. Your doctor may wish to biopsy the tumor by taking a small sample of tissue to examine it for cancer cells.
A cancer diagnosis usually has a number between one and four (I-IV) assigned to it, which is called “staging.” Staging indicates how much the cancer has spread beyond its original location. The higher the number, the more the cancer has spread.
Cancer treatment is based on the location and stage of the tumor. Cancer treatment can be chemotherapy to destroy the cancer cells, radiation therapy using high-energy rays, surgery to remove the tumor and surrounding tissue or hormone therapy. Also, biological therapy using naturally occurring antibodies or stem cells may be used to treat cancer.
The side effects of cancer treatment can be serious, and include hair loss, pain, nausea and vomiting, fatigue and weakness, among others.