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Procedures for cancer diagnosis

Cancer screening procedures in Pennsylvania and in the rest of the country fall into two categories: imaging testing and tissue testing. An imaging test could be an ultrasound, an X-ray, an MRI, a CT scan or a PET scan. A tissue test is usually a type of biopsy after which the sample collected by the doctor is examined in a lab. In either case, patients need to know what kinds of substances and waves will be used in the procedures.

Imaging tests may use electromagnetic radiation or sound waves. X-rays and CT scans both use X-rays for the imaging, and the main difference between the two is that X-rays are 2-dimensional and CT scans are 3-dimensional. MRIs use radio waves and electromagnetic fields to form their images. PET scans use a radioactive sugar that the patient ingests, and the PET scanning machine can use that to find a tumor because a tumor is most optimized to consume the radioactive sugar for energy.

Biopsies are of at least three types. First, medical professionals may perform a needle biopsy, wherein they insert a needle into the skin, collect cells from the mass and then use the cells for testing. Another possibility is an incision, wherein a health care professional cuts into the mass and removes only a small piece of it. Finally, a doctor could choose to remove the entire tumor in a biopsy. Once a sample is removed, it can be sent to a laboratory for examination under a microscope or for molecular testing.

A patient who did not receive any kind of testing for a cancer mass on a timely basis and whose condition worsened as a result may have been a victim of medical malpractice. An attorney representing such a patient will endeavor to determine whether such delay constituted a failure by the practitioner to exhibit the requisite standard of care.

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