Diagnosing Cancer

This information is useful for children, adults, and older adults
woman looking through a microscope, possibly diagnosing cancer

Cancer is a broad term, referring to hundreds of different conditions that can develop in any part of the body. For this reason, symptoms range widely—from a tumor that you can see or feel, to one that affects how your body functions, to no symptoms at all. What’s the main thing all cancers have in common? They all begin when abnormal cells in the body start to grow and spread uncontrollably.

When doctors give a diagnosis of cancer, it’s never an assumption. They rule out other possible causes before they zero in on cancer. Then, working with other medical specialists, they carefully perform a series of tests to check (and double-check) the diagnosis.

“Cancer diagnosis and treatment is a multidisciplinary team effort,” says Yale Medicine pathologist Peter A. Humphrey, MD, PhD. “Our teams of doctors work together to detect the cancer, determine its aggressiveness and extent, and devise the best treatment and management plan.”

Our cancer experts are national/international leaders in their field, with the most up-to-date knowledge and skill in cancer diagnosis and treatment. “We have a large number of specialists with expertise in specific types of cancers, which is critical for the care of cancer patients,” Dr. Humphrey says.