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Screening Tests

Screening tests

Ramsay offer a range of screening tests:

Bowel screening

Detecting bowel cancer early can give you a better chance of survival. One of the easiest ways to look for any abnormality is by examining a stool sample for blood. But Ramsay hospitals can also offer a number of other tests. A colonoscopy is particularly suitable for people with a family history of colorectal cancer who fear they may also be at risk. It involves a long, flexible tube with a camera on the end being inserted into your back passage. This enables the inside of the rectum and colon to be seen and any abnormalities spotted. If polyps are seen they can be cut away and sent for examination.

A CT or virtual colonoscopy is performed using a CT scanner to create an accurate picture of the inside and outside of the bowel. This is less invasive but if suspected abnormalities are seen, the patient may need further interventions to establish what they are.

Colorectal cancer screening

Diagnosis of bowel or rectum cancer can include a barium enema, sigmoidoscopy, CT and MRI scans, and ultrasound.

A recent study found that screening using sigmoidoscopy (a flexible tube inserted into the bowel) to detect polyps and then removing them reduced the incidence of bowel cancer by a third in the 55-64 age group*. 

Breast cancer screening

Mammograms can provide your doctors with important information about your breasts and can pinpoint any changes in the breast tissue - often before you would notice any changes yourself. They are a detailed Xray picture of your breasts which will show up both cancers and deposits of calcium which can be an early indicator of breast cancer developing.

Mammograms are not very painful and only take a few minutes. Many women, especially those with a family history of breast cancer, have regular mammograms to spot any early changes in the breast tissue.

Cervical cancer screening

This involves taking a few cells from your cervix and then examining them to see if there are any pre-cancerous changes; it is also known as a smear test. If abnormalities are found, it does not mean you have cancer but your doctor may suggest treatment to remove them or, in some cases, more regular screening to check for further changes. Although many women find the screening procedure uncomfortable, it is an excellent way of identifying abnormalities which might go on to become cancer if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent as many as 75 per cent of these cancers developing.

Prostate cancer screening

Prostate screening tests might include:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test - measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. A high PSA might be a sign of prostate cancer or another condition.
  • Digital rectal examination (DRE) – a physical examination of your prostate gland to check its size and for anything unusual.
  • An MRI scan - detailed scan of your prostate to help identify signs of cancer.
  • A biopsy – prostate cells are removed and examined under a microscope

Lung cancer screening

Diagnostic tests for lung cancer include:

  • CT scan - uses X-rays to make 3D images of the inside of your body. It detects smaller tumours and provides information about the tumour and lymph nodes.
  • PET scan – shows if there are active cancer cells and can be used to stage lung cancer after diagnosis.
  • Bronchoscopy and biopsy – a thin, flexible telescope, called a bronchoscope is used to see inside your airways and remove a small biopsy sample of tumour cells
  • Thoracoscopy - examines a particular area of your chest by taking tissue and fluid samples.
  • Percutaneous transthoracic needle biopsy - a needle under CT scanner guidance is inserted through your skin and into your lung where the suspected tumour is. A small amount of tissue is removed and tested in the laboratory.

Lymphoma screening

A biopsy is the first test required, which involves removing some or all of an affected lymph node for examination under a microscope. If your biopsy confirms a lymphoma diagnosis further testing is needed to check how far the lymphoma has spread. Further tests may include blood tests, chest X-ray, bone marrow sample, CT scan, MRI scan, PET scan, and lumbar puncture.

Myeloma screening

Initially, a urine and blood test is required to check for certain antibodies and proteins. If they suspect myeloma, you will be referred to haematologist for further tests and scans including X-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and a biopsy sample of bone marrow.

Leukaemia screening

Leukaemia tests might include:

  • Blood tests – to check your full blood count, see if your cells are healthy, and to check how well your liver and kidneys are working.
  • X-rays and scans - MRI scans, CT scans, PET scans, ultrasound scans or X-rays to create detailed pictures of the inside of your body.
  • Bone marrow biopsy - a sample of bone marrow is removed and checked under a microscope.
  • Genetic tests - looks for changes to the genes in your cells.
  • Immunophenotyping - looks at proteins on the surface of your cells.
  • Lumbar puncture - may be done if it’s suspected that acute leukaemia has spread to your nervous system.
  • Lymph node biopsy - removing and examining a swollen lymph gland.
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