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Diagnosing and Staging Cancer

Learn about the signs and symptoms of cancer, how cancer is diagnosed, and what to expect if you're facing a possible cancer diagnosis.

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Do I Have Cancer?

Most signs and symptoms of cancer can also be caused by other things. But if you have any signs and symptoms that don't go away or get worse, it's important to see a doctor to find out what’s causing them. If cancer is not the cause, a doctor can help figure out what the cause is and treat it, if needed.

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How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

If your health care team thinks you might have cancer, you might need certain exams or tests to find out. Learn about the tests used to diagnose and stage cancer, and get help understanding your test results.

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How Serious Is the Cancer?

If cancer is diagnosed, more tests are usually done to find out how large it is, how far it has spread, or how quickly it might grow. This is called staging. Cancer often spreads through the lymph system, so checking lymph nodes near the cancer is often needed. Learn more about cancer staging and how cancer grows and spreads.

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How Do I Talk to People About Having Cancer?

It can be hard to talk about cancer, even with the people you love. Your loved ones may also have a hard time talking about cancer. It’s not easy for them to know what to say to help you or make you feel better. Here are some tips to help you and your loved ones deal with cancer.

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What Happens Next?

If you are diagnosed with cancer, you may need some time to adjust. It’s normal to feel disbelief, shock, fear, and anger. You may need some time to absorb and understand what your diagnosis and treatment options mean for you and your loved ones. Here are some resources to help.