Cancer Care

Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

There are many ways to diagnose and screen for cancer. Some cancers can be diagnosed through imaging tests. Diagnosing other cancers may involve taking samples through biopsy. Browse the diagnostic screenings and tests below:

Cancer Screenings & Tests

Other Screenings & Tests to Diagnose Cancer

  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy takes a small portion of the liquid and solid parts of the bone marrow. The marrow is looked at under a microscope to check the type and stage of cancer.

  • Positron emissions tomography and computed tomography scan (PET-CT) is a combination of a PET scan and a CT scan. PET scans use a liquid that goes in the blood and often attaches to cancerous tissue. CT scans evaluate tissues and organs inside the body.

  • Tumor marker tests evaluate the biomarkers in blood, urine or bodily tissue. Tumor markers can be found in cancerous cells and healthy cells as well.

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About Cancer Screening

Talk to Your Provider About Cancer Screenings

The following are the screenings recommended by the American Cancer Society. Talk to your primary care provider, if you have a family history of cancer or other risk factors to see how often you should be screened. If you are at a high risk, your screening schedule may change.

  • Colorectal cancer. Talk to your doctor about being screened for colorectal (colon) cancer starting at age 50. Learn more about colorectal cancer screening.

  • Skin cancer. Talk to your doctor about being screened for skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommend that people perform a skin self-exam once a month.

  • Lung cancer. If you are an older adult with a history of smoking one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years, ask your doctor about a lung cancer screening. Learn more about lung cancer screening from the Maine Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program.

Check with Your Provider About the Following Screenings

  • Breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting regular mammograms starting at age 45, and clinical breast exams starting at age 20. Learn more about breast cancer screenings and mammograms. This recommendation has been carefully considered by the multidisciplinary breast care team at MaineHealth/Maine Medical Center.  The mammography screening guidelines continue to evolve, and it is very important for any individual to discuss the optimal time to start and merits of screening mammography with their physician so that any individual can make an informed decision.

  • Cervical cancer. Begin cervical cancer screening about 3 years after first having vaginal intercourse, but no later than age 21. Learn more about cervical cancer screening through regular exams and Pap tests.

  • Endometrial cancer. At menopause, women should be told the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected vaginal bleeding to their doctor.

Talk to Your Provider About Cancer Screenings

  • Prostate cancer. Starting at age 50, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested for prostate cancer. If you have risk factors, you may wish to be screened starting at age 40. Learn more about prostate cancer screening.

  • You may also wish to be examined for other kinds of cancer during regular health exams. Ask your doctor about counseling and exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, lymph nodes and testes in regular check-ups.

Connect with Cancer Care and Services

Here are some useful links for learning about and getting cancer care and services.