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How can cancer be diagnosed?

New York residents might be aware that cancer is a disease that is characterized by abnormal cell growth. As the abnormal cells grow, they affect the functioning of normal cells and eventually take over. This results in the breakdown of normal organ function, which can ultimately lead to death depending on the area of the body affected.

In order to diagnose cancer, a doctor will examine a tissue or cell sample under a microscope. Sometimes, a physician might be able to detect a lump during a physical exam, but the most accurate way of identifying cancer is through a microscope. A doctor might also order lab tests to be done on the proteins, RNA and DNA of cells before diagnosing this disease. A lab test might also reveal if a patient has certain infections or other diseases, which can mimic the appearance of cancer.

The tissue sample that is being examined is called a biopsy specimen while a biopsy refers to the removal of the tissue for a diagnostic study. The majority of lumps found in the body tend to be benign tumors, which means that they are not cancerous. However, if a lump is found to be malignant, the cancerous cells can spread to distant parts of the body, and treatment may need to be commenced to prevent this.

If a person finds themselves in a situation where they believe that they have received an inaccurate or delayed diagnosis of cancer, there may be legal recourse available to them. While this information is not intended as legal advice, it may be beneficial to consult an attorney who is familiar with medical malpractice claims. An attorney may be able to provide guidance and support relative to a person's specific situation.

Source: American Caner Society, "What is Cancer?"

Source: Cancer, "How is cancer diagnosed?", November 12, 2014

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