Ramsay offer a range of diagnostic tests:
A CT scan is basically a series of X-rays taken in quick succession which can be put together to form a very detailed picture of the inside of your body. This can help diagnose cancer and show how close it is to other organs. You will have to lie on a couch which passes through the middle of the circular scanner. In some cases, you will be given a drink containing a dye which shows up your body organs more clearly. The results of your scan will be interpreted by a radiologist who will then discuss the findings with your doctor.
These use magnetism to build up a picture of what is going on inside your body. For some cases they can provide an extremely detailed and clear picture of the size of the tumour and the extent to which it has spread, which will help your doctors decide on the most appropriate treatment. An MRI scan will take from half an hour to 90 minutes to complete; they are painless but some people find the noise and the sense of being enclosed unpleasant. You may be asked to drink a liquid containing a dye which will allow the organs to be seen more clearly.
This uses sound waves to ‘see’ your organs. A microphone is passed over the part of the body to be scanned and the returning sound waves are feed into a computer which then builds up an image of your internal organs and tissues. Occasionally the microphone needs to be inserted into your body to get a better picture - this can be the case when the prostate or ovaries need to be visualised, for example.
This means to look inside - and that is precisely what endoscopes do. They are flexible tubes fitted with a camera which can be inserted into the body to look at areas which are causing concern. Most commonly they are used to look at the colon and bowel (colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy) or down the throat. You may be offered a sedative while the procedure is carried out but will normally be able to go home after a short recovery period.
Your doctor may want you to have blood tests as you are being diagnosed and also during treatment. Your blood can be a good indicator of your general health as well as your particular condition. Some specialist tests look for specific tumour markers in your blood - these are proteins produced either by tumours or in response to them. The results of these tests will be used by your doctor in conjunction with other information; a high level of a marker does not automatically mean you have cancer. Tumour markers can be useful in monitoring how you are responding to treatment and your doctors may want to test you regularly.
Prostate specific antigen is a protein produced by cells in the prostate. An elevated level of PSA in a blood sample can indicate prostate cancer - although high levels are also caused by other benign conditions and levels are generally higher with age. A rising level after treatment for cancer can be an indication that cancer has returned. But PSA levels can be difficult to interpret with any certainty and your doctors may want to consider them along other clinical and diagnostic evidence.