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Cancer Diagnostic Tests

​Diagnostics Tests​Description
​Barium enema radiological examinationThis procedure uses barium and air to outline the lining of the rectum and colon. The barium is given in an enema (injection of a liquid through the anus) which is then ‘held’ inside the colon while x-rays are taken.​
​Barium meal radiological examinationDuring this examination, the patient swallows liquid containing barium. X-rays are then taken to delineate the stomach wall. Ulcers and lumps can be detected.

* This procedure is specifi c for cancers of the digestive tract​
Bronchoscopy​​In this examination, a fibre-optic tube, about 7mm in diameter, is introduced through the nose and into the lung under light sedation and local anaesthesia.

Small pieces of tissue can be painlessly removed for further examination to diagnose cancer.

This procedure is specific for lung cancer
​Colonoscopy​A flexible fibre-optic scope is introduced via the anus to examine the inner covering mucosa of the entire large intestine. This technique can effectively detect very early cancers and precursor polyps as well as any other pathology, e.g. infection, inflammation, diverticular disease.
​Colposcopy​A specialised examination with a binocular microscope to assess the cervix when a woman has an abnormal Pap smear, or when the cervix appears suspicious of having a cancer on clinical examination. Colposcopy can detect infection by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), pre-cancer, and cancer of the cervix, vagina and external genitals (vulva).
​Computed Tomography (CT)​This test uses a special x-ray machine that takes pictures from many angles.

A computer to produce detailed cross-sectional images combines the pictures. The CT scan can help show if and where the cancer has spread.
Computed Tomographic (CT) Colonography

​Computed tomographic (CT) colonography, also known as ‘virtual colonoscopy’, is an imaging technique of the colon involving multi-slice CT and computer software to generate high-resolution two-dimensional and three-dimensional images of the inner surface of the colon. These images are then interpreted by a radiologist to determine the presence of several types of abnormalities of the colon.

CT colonography has been investigated as a technique for colon cancer screening. Although it requires a full bowel cleansing similar to that required for conventional colonoscopy, the procedure requires no sedation or analgesia, and is faster to perform than conventional colonoscopy. However, since it is only a screening procedure, patients with positive findings require conventional colonoscopy for biopsy of the lesion.

​Gastroscopy​This is an examination of the inside of the gullet, stomach and duodenum. It is performed by using a thin fl exible fibre-optic scope that is passed through the mouth and allows the doctors to examine the lining of the oesophagus (gullet) or stomach, and take a biopsy. It is done as an outpatient procedure under light anaesthesia.
​Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

​MRI scans use radio waves and strong magnets instead of x-ray. The energy from the radio waves is absorbed and then released in a pattern formed by the type of tissue and by certain diseases.

A computer translates the pattern of radio waves given off by the tissues into a very detailed image of parts of the body. Not only does this produce cross–sectional slices of the body like a CT scanner, it can also produce slices that are parallel with the length of the body.

Mammogram​​This is an x-ray examination of the breast which helps to define the extent of a lump. It is sometimes combined with an ultrasound of the breast to determine if the lump is mainly solid or cystic, i.e. filled with liquid only. The mammogram examination is slightly uncomfortable as the breast is compressed against a metal surface to obtain a good x-ray image.
​Mammotome​This procedure involves a vacuum-assisted device to remove some tissue (biopsy) from the breast for microscopic examination. This device is guided by ultrasound or x-ray. The tissue samples are removed from the breast by using a hollow biopsy needle which is guided precisely to the suspicious lesion. This procedure is minimally invasive as compared to open surgical biopsy and is performed as an outpatient procedure.
​Positron Emission Tomography (PET)

​A very new type of scan that can actually see how body tissues and organs are working and not just what they look like. PET images show the chemical changes of an organ or tissue, unlike x-ray, CT or MRI, which show only body structure.

The PET Scanner is one of the most powerful and accurate diagnostic imaging machines available in SingHealth hospitals. PET uses special ‘radioactive tracers’, which helps to reveal more about the biochemical activity at the cellular level of a disease than other types of imaging techniques.