Testing Biopsy and Cytology Specimens for Cancer

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Testing Biopsy and Cytology Specimens for Cancer

Waiting to hear test results and a possible cancer diagnosis can be very stressful. But a better understanding of the testing process doctors use 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.

Much of the testing process takes place behind the scenes. You’ll 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 malignant (cancer) or benign (not cancer).

Last Medical Review: 01/29/2013
Last Revised: 03/07/2013