Testing and Diagnosis

Cancer Testing and Diagnosis

A Quick Diagnosis, When Time Matters

Cancer can affect people of all ages, races, and genders. It can also affect people who otherwise seem in perfectly good health. That’s why ThedaCare doctors and specialists take every test seriously, trying to give you answers as quickly as possible.

Testing and Screening

In most cases, testing and screening starts with regular visits with your primary care doctor. You may go through routine preventive screening, like a mammogram or prostate exam. Or, if you’re experiencing suspicious symptoms or find an abnormality, like a breast lump, your doctor may recommend that you undergo additional testing.

Your screening or test will be performed by your primary care doctor, a specialist, or a technician (your results will be interpreted by your doctor or a specialist in these instances). If an abnormality is found through an ultrasound, imaging, or physical exam, it will likely be recommend that you have a biopsy.

A biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves taking a small sample of tissue from a tumor or potentially cancerous area. You’ll be sedated, either partially or completely, during the procedure to minimize pain.

We schedule these tests as soon as possible, so you don’t have to anxiously wait and worry for weeks. In fact, we can often do a screening and biopsy in the same day, if that’s your preference.

Making a Diagnosis

The results of your biopsy will determine if your tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If your tumor is cancerous, we’ll need to do further testing to figure out what stage it’s in. This may involve an MRI, PET scan, or CT scan, which take internal images of your entire body, or parts of your body. This imaging is not painful.

We’ll then determine what stage your cancer is in. There are four stages of cancer—Stage 1 is the most treatable, while Stage 4 is the most difficult to cure, often because the cancer may have spread to other areas of your body.

What Your Diagnosis Means

It can come as a shock to hear that you have cancer, especially if you feel healthy. Even though you might be worried and scared, rest assured that your care team—all the doctors that have worked with you so far, and those who will work with you moving forward— will develop a treatment plan to help you tackle your disease.

They’ll discuss your treatment options, give recommendations, and provide educational materials, so you and your family can make an informed decision. You’ll also have the opportunity to receive counseling and get valuable emotional support from a Behavioral Health Specialist. Our staff is specially trained to help you cope with the anxieties and fears that can accompany a cancer diagnosis. They are an important part of your healthcare team and will help guide you in your treatment journey.

Learn about your treatment options