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Methods to diagnose cancer

There are a number of different approaches that may be used to diagnose cancer for patients in Georgia. These tests are necessary because many different symptoms might indicate cancer, but they could also indicate some other condition.

Diagnostic methods including biopsies of tumors, diagnostic imaging, lab tests and endoscopic exams. In a biopsy, a sample of cells or tissue is taken to be tested. This might be done on an outpatient basis, or it could require a hospital visit and sedation. Diagnostic imaging may include X-rays, mammograms, ultrasounds, bone scans or MRIs. Lab tests could include tumor markers, urinalyses or blood tests. Colonoscopies and cystoscopies are both types of endoscopic exams.

Repeat testing may be necessary in some cases, such as if there is an abnormal test result or if the sample is poor quality. Physicians will generally take a thorough history and make a physical exam before diagnosing cancer. It may be necessary to eliminate several possibilities before reaching a diagnosis of cancer. A person who is not suffering from any symptoms might want to have genetic testing for cancer risk if there is a family history of the disease. This is a complex process that a physician may provide more information about.

If there is a delayed diagnosis or missed diagnosis when a person has cancer, that person's health could be severely compromised. A misdiagnosis might even be fatal. However, a court deciding on a case of medical malpractice will distinguish between a diagnosis that takes some time because of normal medical procedures versus one that is the result of negligence. The court considers whether the person received a reasonable standard of care based on what most medical professionals would have done. Misinterpreting results or dismissing a person's symptoms might be considered medical malpractice, and a person or their family may be eligible to receive compensation.

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