Tests & Screenings
Getting the most accurate diagnosis is the first step in designing a treatment plan for your type of cancer. At Los Alamitos Medical Center, we offer a range of screenings and tests to help reach that diagnosis. Among them are:
A physician administers a special dye called barium into the patient’s rectum and colon through the anus. An X-ray is then taken, with the barium showing up bright white, clearly outlining the colon and rectum. Abnormalities such as inflammation, polyps (precancerous growths) and cancer are then visible.
Bone marrow aspiration & biopsy
Bone marrow aspiration and bone marrow biopsy are short medical procedures in which a physician collects a sample of bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside of bones, so that it can be examined.
A bone scan is an imaging test in which a doctor injects a very small amount of a radioactive substance (tracer) to find or monitor cancer that started in the bones or that has spread to the bones from another part of the body.
During a biopsy, a physician removes an area of breast tissue and sends this sample to a pathologist to determine whether cancer cells are present.
Breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging test that uses magnets and radio waves instead of X-rays to produce very detailed, cross-sectional images of the breasts. The patient lies inside a narrow tube, face down, on a platform specially designed for the procedure.
During a colonoscopy, the doctor inserts a colonoscope, which is a flexible tube with a small video camera attached to it, into the anus so that (s)he may look inside the entire large intestine to screen for polyps or cancerous cells.
Computed tomography (CT) scan
In a computed tomography (CT) scan, also called a CAT scan, a trained technologist positions the patient on the CT examination table. The table moves through the scanner while X-rays take highly detailed images of the body. These images are used to find out the cancer’s stage (where it is located, where it has spread and whether it is affecting the functions of other organs in the body).
Digital rectal exam (DRE)
During a DRE, the doctor gently inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps, soft or hard spots and other abnormalities. Additional tests may be needed if an area of concern is found.
Donating blood & platelets
A blood transfusion is a procedure in which blood or a blood component is transferred from one individual (donor) to another (recipient). Cancer treatments — such as surgery, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation, or the cancer itself — may necessitate a transfusion. A person may choose to donate whole blood or specific parts of the blood, such as platelets or red blood cells.
Donating bone marrow
A bone marrow transplant is a medical procedure used to replace diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow. Collecting stem cells from bone marrow involves surgery and is done in the operating room. Donors are given anesthesia and a physician inserts needles through the skin and into the bone to draw the marrow out of the bone.
Donating umbilical cord blood
Often an effective alternative to bone marrow transplantation, donated umbilical cord blood is a possible treatment for leukemia, other cancers and immune and genetic disorders. The procedure is quick and painless; a doctor simply clamps and cuts a newborn’s umbilical cord and saves the placenta, conserving approximately 3 to 5 fluid ounces of blood containing the same hematopoietic stem cells found in bone marrow.
EKG & echocardiogram
In an electrocardiogram and an echocardiogram (EKG or ECG), a nurse or medical technician places stickers (called leads or electrodes) with wires connected to them on the patient’s chest. These leads collect information about the heart’s electrical activity, which the doctor then interprets. Chemotherapy patients may need one of these tests before, during or after treatment to identify pre-existing heart conditions to identify chemotherapy-related heart damage.
Endoscopy is a procedure in which a doctor inserts a thin tube with a camera (endoscope) into the body to diagnose or, in some cases, treat a health condition.
Fecal occult blood tests
A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a test that may be used to search for signs of colorectal cancer or other health conditions, usually blood in the stool. The doctor will require the collection of three stool samples taken one day apart since colon cancers can bleed from time to time, rather than consistently.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a test that uses magnetic fields, not X-rays, to produce detailed images of the body — helping a doctor find, evaluate or monitor a cancer. The patient lies inside a narrow tube on a platform specially designed for the procedure while a doctor or trained technician initiates the scan.
Mammography is a type of X-ray that checks for breast cancer in women. The images produced by mammography, called mammograms, show small tumors or other irregularities in the breast that cannot be felt by the doctor in a conventional exam.
A multigated acquisition (MUGA) scan creates video images of the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart that hold blood) to check whether they are pumping blood properly and if there are abnormalities in the size of the ventricles or the movement of the blood through the heart. It is performed by a specially trained and certified nuclear medicine technologist and supervised by a radiologist (a medical doctor who specializes in using imaging tests to diagnose disease).
A doctor gently inserts a flexible tube with a camera into the sigmoid colon through the anus to look for abnormalities inside the lower 20 inches of the sigmoid colon and rectum (also called the large intestine). The large intestine plays an important role in the body’s ability to process waste.
During an ultrasound, a doctor or ultrasound technologist, called a sonographer, places a transducer, which resembles a microphone, on the patient’s body. The transducer sends high-frequency sound waves into the body and then listens for the returning echoes to create images that appear on a console screen.
In an upper endoscopy, a doctor inserts a flexible tube with an attached camera into the mouth and down the esophagus to examine the upper part of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, including the esophagus (the muscular tube that connects the throat to the stomach), stomach and duodenum (the top of the small intestine).
Let Los Alamitos connect you with a physician
Call (855) 840-3668 or use our Find A Physician tool
to be connected to a cancer specialist who can help you. You can also read more about various cancers in our Health Library