If you’re concerned you may have cancer, you want answers as soon as possible. At Central Maine Healthcare, our doctors will see you quickly, answer all your questions and strive to get you a fast and accurate diagnosis.
How is Cancer Diagnosed?
Sometimes an infection can be the cause of many of the same symptoms cancer produces. That’s why your doctor will need to conduct multiple tests to accurately diagnose your condition. Diagnosis starts with your doctor giving you a physical exam and finding out about your family history. Based on what she finds, she’ll discuss next steps with you and explain the tests she thinks are needed. These may include any of the following:
Imaging procedures are painless and are often the first step in determining a patient’s condition. Central Maine Healthcare’s partnership with Shields Health Care allows us to offer a variety of imaging services including x-rays, PET scans, CT scans, and MRI. We feature some of the best MRI technology in the region, with the open-bore MRI scanner at Central Maine Medical Center providing extra space for maximum patient comfort and sharp clarity for more accurate diagnoses. Our mobile open bore MRI allows us to provide this same comfort and accuracy at our critical access hospitals, Rumford Hospital and Bridgton Hospital.
Cancer often produces what doctors call markers. These chemicals found in the blood give clues about whether cancer is present and what type it may be. Your doctor may take a sample of tissue from the area she’s concerned about (called a biopsy) and send it to Central Maine Comprehensive Cancer Center’s pathology lab. There, specially trained doctors called pathologists will study the sample and look for cancer markers.
With this exam, a scope (a camera attached to a flexible tube) is inserted into an opening in your body. It allows your doctor to see your organs and look for evidence of cancer. She may use the scope to also take a sample of the tissue (called a biopsy) for examination under a microscope in the pathology laboratory.
Your doctor may want to learn more about the genes in your DNA. Some of these genes may provide further clues to the type of cancer you may have and how best to treat it. At Central Maine Comprehensive Cancer Center, we offer genetic testing and counseling to help you understand the test and what its results may mean for you.