When New York doctors suspect that their patients might have cancer, there are certain steps they need to take before they can make a formal diagnosis. For example, a doctor may ask for family medical history, perform a physical exam and order lab tests to get started. If the lab test results are abnormal, the doctor may then order imaging tests or even a biopsy.
There are a variety of imaging procedures that can be used to determine if there are abnormal tissues in the body. The type of imaging tests that may be ordered can depend on where the cancer may be located and what tissues are involved. A CT scan looks at organs while a nuclear scan can be used to look at bones and organs. An ultrasound uses sound waves to generate sonograms, or pictures, of body tissues. MRIs use strong magnets to create pictures while PET scans involve tracers to make 3-D images of organs and other working tissues. Finally, X-rays use low doses of radiation to take images of the bones.
During a biopsy procedure, a doctor will remove a sample of tissue so that it can be looked at under the microscope and a formal cancer diagnosis can be made. In some cases, biopsies can be completed with a needle, an endoscope or with surgery. The type of biopsy will depend on the type of tissue that needs to be collected.
A doctor’s failure to diagnose cancer could cause a patient to have a lower chance of survival or need more aggressive treatment to try and get rid of the cancer. These treatments can leave a person very sick and unable to work or live a normal life. A medical malpractice attorney may assist with filing a lawsuit against the doctor who failed to make a timely diagnosis if it can be determined that the error constituted negligence.