Metastatic breast cancer is stage 4 breast cancer. It is also known as advanced breast cancer. Cancer that has spread beyond the area of the...Read More
Diagnostic oncology is a vital branch of medicine that is focused on the diagnosis and characterization of cancer. The goal of diagnostic oncology is to detect cancer as early as possible, so that appropriate treatment can be initiated and the best possible outcome can be achieved for the patient.
The process of diagnosing cancer typically begins with a patient presenting with symptoms that may be indicative of cancer. These symptoms can include things like a lump or mass, changes in skin colour or texture, unexplained weight loss, and persistent pain or discomfort. In some cases, cancer may be asymptomatic, and discovered on routine screening.
One of the most common diagnostic tools used in oncology is imaging. This can include X-ray, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and ultrasound. These imaging modalities allow physicians to see inside the body and identify any suspicious areas that may be indicative of cancer. For example, CT scans can be used to detect tumours in the chest, abdomen, and pelvis, while MRI is often used to evaluate the brain and spinal cord.
Another important diagnostic tool in oncology is biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of tissue is taken from the suspected cancerous area and examined under a microscope. This allows physicians to determine if the cells in the tissue sample are cancerous and, if so, what type of cancer it is. There are various types of biopsy procedures such as fine needle aspiration, core needle biopsy, and surgical biopsy.
In recent years, molecular diagnostics has become an increasingly important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This type of testing examines the genetic makeup of cancer cells to help identify specific mutations or changes that may be driving the cancer's growth. This information can be used to develop targeted therapies that are more effective and have fewer side effects.
In addition to imaging and biopsy, other diagnostic tests such as blood tests, urine tests, and stool tests may be used to help diagnose and/or stage cancer. These tests can help to identify biomarkers that may be present in the body as a result of the cancer, or to evaluate the patient's overall health prior to treatment.
Overall, diagnostic oncology is a complex and multifaceted field that involves the use of various tools and techniques to accurately diagnose and characterise cancer. By utilising a range of diagnostic tools, oncologists are able to provide a more complete picture of a patient's cancer, which helps to guide treatment decisions and improve outcomes.