Test for cancer ❤️ How to test for cancer? Blood test for oncology: indicators
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What cancer tests can be done if cancer is suspected

What cancer tests can be done if cancer is suspected

Cancer tests are a set of laboratory tests that are carried out when oncology is suspected. Depending on the patient's complaints and the type of disease, the oncologist will prescribe diagnostics, including hardware and laboratory.

It is important to know that a single cancer test cannot reliably point to a specific disease. Screening for cancer is a multi-step process. In this article, we will take a closer look at what screening can help in the early diagnosis of oncology and what signs of cancer in a blood test a doctor can detect.


What to do if you suspect cancer?cancer tests

If a person suspects that he (she) has cancer, then first of all it is necessary to contact a family doctor. During the consultation, the doctor will be able to analyze the family history, listen to the patient, and issue a referral to the cancer center. In the case of contacting a private clinic, you can get advice from a specialist without a referral.

Depending on what type of cancer the patient may have, the doctor will prescribe further examinations.

The main types of oncological pathologies include:

  • glioma (brain cancer)
  • carcinoma (epithelial cancer);
  • melanoma (skin cancer);
  • sarcoma (cancer of the connective tissue);
  • leukemia (oncoprocess in the hematopoietic system);
  • lymphoma (cancer process in the lymphatic system).

Options for cancer tests and hardware diagnostic methods differ for each type of oncology. For example, if brain cancer is suspected, a neurological examination, MRI, and CT scan of the head are performed. A biopsy (tissue sampling) allows to clarify the diagnosis and determine the type of tumor.

With leukemia, special hematological tests are taken. Doctors perform a sternal puncture on a patient to examine a sample from the spinal cord.

A blood count in oncology remains the same method of laboratory diagnostics. It is carried out not only at the stage of diagnosis but also in the process of cancer treatment.


How is cancer determined by laboratory methods?

The Cleveland American Academic Medical Center defines 4 main categories of laboratory tests for cancer:

  1. Complete blood counts (CBC).
  2. Protein blood test.
  3. Circulating tumor cell (CTC) assays.
  4. Tumor markers.

Laboratory blood tests are done for all types of cancer. According to researchers, they are most indicative of Hodgkin's lymphoma, leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

A biochemical blood test reveals a decrease in the level of total protein and urea. The doctor may prescribe biochemistry if a malignant tumor of the connective tissue (sarcoma) is suspected.

When doing the protein blood test, a special process called electrophoresis is used. These proteins, called immunoglobulins, are produced by the immune system in response to diseases such as myeloma.

Circulating tumor cells are atypical cells that have separated from a malignant neoplasm and entered the general circulation. It is important to conduct such a blood test for oncology in a high-tech laboratory. Specialists of foreign clinics in this way can detect even a tiny amount of abnormal cells and confirm the diagnosis.

Let's take a closer look at cancer tests.


What does indicate cancer in the complete blood count?

CBC is included in the system of examinations for suspected cancer. A complete blood count cannot be the only reliable research method, however, some indicators may indicate the presence of a malignant tumor in a patient.

CBC for cancer  

What does a complete blood count show in oncology?

A change in the blood count may indicate not only the presence of an inflammatory process. The doctor should pay attention to such deviations and recommend the patient to contact an oncologist:

  • if blood clotting becomes higher than usual;
  • revealed high ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate 80-90mm/h);
  • if the level of leukocytes is more than 10x109/l;
  • an increased number of platelets in the blood (more than 400x109/l) is revealed.

In a complete blood count, any abnormal changes can indicate cancer. So, for example, too low a hemoglobin level is typical not only for iron deficiency anemia. A decrease in this indicator (hemoglobin below 120 g/l) is observed in leukemia, kidney, and bladder cancer.


Oncology blood test: indicators in special tests

Most blood tests are not used on their own to diagnose tumors. But they can provide clues that will help the medical team schedule further tests. Most cancers require a procedure to take a sample of cells for testing.

The specialists of the Mayo Clinic Research Center recommends that patients perform the following blood tests to check for cancer:

  • Cell Count
    With a complete blood count (CBC), it is possible to measure the number of each type of cell in a sample. This test can detect oncohematological diseases.
  • Protein Check
    Various proteins in the blood to find those produced by the body's immune system fighting pathogens are examined with electrophoresis analysis.
  • Chemical Substancies Detection
    Tumor marker tests are used to look for specific chemicals produced by cancer cells.
  • Search for the genetic material of atypical cells
    A blood sample to look for pieces of DNA from cancer cells is used in these tests. Healthy and abnormal cells break down during the natural process of growth or death. These cell fragments enter the bloodstream so that the body can get rid of them. Special tests allow for identifying these elements and clarify the diagnosis.

According to Mayo scientists, in the future, these tests can be used to detect cancer at an asymptomatic zero stage.

cancer tests


How cancer is diagnosed using tumor markers

A tumor marker is a substance produced by the body in response to cancer growth. Because some of these substances can be detected in urine, blood, and body tissues, these markers can be used in conjunction with other methods to diagnose certain types of cancer. Tumor marker tests help predict and monitor a person's response to certain treatments and detect relapse.


Why are tumor marker tests not suitable for mass human screening?

Despite the fact that this type of research is widely used in foreign cancer centers, it is not suitable for mass screening of people for cancer. Members of the Medical Review Board published the following theses on Testing.com regarding testing restrictions:

  • some tumor markers may be high in people with diseases that are not related to oncology;
  • not every patient with a certain type of cancer will have an elevated level of the corresponding tumor marker;
  • not every cancer has a tumor marker that has been identified as being associated with it.


What are the benefits of testing for tumor markers?

These tests provide additional information. In a person with specific symptoms, tumor markers can be used to help detect cancer and distinguish it from other conditions with similar symptoms.

Key benefits of tumor marker tests:

  • If the patient does have cancer, then tumor marker elevation can be used to determine if the cancer has metastasized to other tissues and organs.


  • Tumor markers can be used to monitor the effectiveness of treatment, especially in advanced forms of cancer. If the level of the marker drops, then the treatment is right. If it remains elevated, therapy should be adjusted.

  • For patients diagnosed with oncology, such a test will help determine the degree of aggressiveness of the cancer. This affects the prognosis of the disease


Examples of tumor markers for some types of cancer

These tests may be done if there are factors that influence the appearance of cancer. The detection of a certain oncomarker indicates the presence of the disease:

  • Calcitonin - thyroid cancer;
  • NSE - lung cancer;
  • SA 15-3 - breast cancer;
  • SA 72-4 - stomach cancer;
  • Alpha-fetoprotein - liver cancer, ovarian or testicular teratocarcinoma;
  • SA 19-9 - cancer of the gastrointestinal tract and pancreas;
  • Beta-2-microglobulin - lymphoma, lymphocytic leukemia or multiple myeloma;
  • PSA - prostate cancer.


How to detect cancer in the early stages

A malignant tumor can be detected at an early stage before it spreads in the body. This is why regular cancer screening is so important.

Key Recommendations from the American Cancer Society:

  • To detect breast cancer:

    women over the age of 40 should have their breasts screened with a mammogram or x-ray.


  • To detect lung cancer:

    people with a smoking history of more than 15 years, for the age group over 50, an LDCT scan is required.

  • To detect colon and rectal cancer:

    people over 45 need to undergo special stool tests and imaging tests (endoscopy or colonoscopy).

  • To detect cervical cancer:

    Women over 25 years old should be tested for HPV every 5 years. Even those people who have been vaccinated against HPV should undergo periodic checks.

  • To detect prostate cancer:

    Men over the age of 50 should have a PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How to get tested will depend on the PSA level in each case.

Depending on the type of disease, various screenings for cancer can be performed. To determine the examinations, it is necessary to objectively assess your family history, age, and the presence of risk factors for the development of diseases.


How to get tested for cancer professionally

oncology check-up

Anyone has the possibility to get an accurate cancer screening. In professional medicine, it is called an oncological check-up.

According to Cancer Research UK, regular cancer screening has the following benefits:

  • It is possible to detect oncology at an early stage. This means that cancer treatment is more likely to be successful.
  • Some tests may detect a precancerous condition. For example, cervical screening can reveal pathologies in the organ that can be treated before cervical cancer occurs.

Extended Check-Up programs have been carried out in foreign clinics for many years. For patients of medical centers in Turkey, Israel, Spain, Germany, and South Korea, this is a chance to receive effective treatment at the earliest stages of the disease. Therefore, travel abroad for the purpose of health monitoring has also become popular all over the world.


How to detect cancer with a check-up?

cancer diagnosis

Most often, cancer check-up programs abroad include:

  • KLA and biochemical analysis of blood;
  • analysis of feces for occult blood;
  • laboratory determination of specific oncomarkers;
  • magnetic resonance imaging;
  • chest x-ray
  • Ultrasound of the thyroid gland, pelvic organs, and gastrointestinal tract.

Depending on the gender and age of the patient, PAP-tests and endoscopic examinations may be performed. In the presence of moles, additional studies for melanoma (skin cancer) are performed.


What is the advantage of undergoing preventive diagnostics abroad?

The main principle on which diagnostics abroad is built is the reliability of the result. The accuracy of examinations is achieved through the latest generation of equipment and highly sensitive tests. This allows for timely diagnosis and rapid initiation of therapy.

Turning to a foreign medical center, a patient can be examined for cancer and combine it with a vacation in a resort town of Istanbul, Barcelona, or another place.


How much does an oncology test abroad cost?

The final cost of a check-up will depend on the volume of procedures, that is, on how cancer is diagnosed in a particular case. Each patient will have their own list of examinations, the most appropriate in their situation.

Examples of cancer check-up prices in foreign hospitals:

  • Turkey and South Korea - from $700;
  • Germany - from $1,200;
  • Israel - from $2,000.

To get a check-up in one of the best foreign clinics, leave a request on the Experts Medical website. The medical coordinator will consult you free of charge, help you choose a hospital, and arrange a trip. You will be able to undergo all the necessary diagnostics and take tests for cancer at an affordable price.