Testing Biopsy and Cytology Specimens for Cancer

Waiting to hear test results to find out if you have cancer can be very stressful. But a better understanding of the testing process used to diagnose and classify cancer can help you understand how test results affect treatment options. It can also help you work with your doctors to make the best decisions about your treatment.

You’ll probably have a chance to meet and ask questions of most of your health care team, which may include a surgeon, medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, oncology nurses, and many others. You’ll be able to see what these professionals do. On the other hand, you rarely meet the pathologists, histotechnologists, cytotechnologists, and medical laboratory technologists who tell you whether the cells in your biopsy sample are cancer or not.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master’s-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: March 30, 2015 Last Revised: July 30, 2015

American Cancer Society medical information is copyrighted material. For reprint requests, please contact permissionrequest@cancer.org.