Cancer is a complex disease that involves a variety of blood tests, biopsies and imaging in order to come to a correct diagnosis. Routine blood work can sometimes detect cancer, but often it is the presence of symptoms pertaining to that particular cancer that encourages further investigation. At the Nardella Clinic in Calgary, our Naturopathic Doctors are trained in oncology-specific testing and treatment therapies.
Tumor Marker Testing: The majority of all types of cancers have tumor markers that can be tested for a variety of reasons. First, for suspicion of diagnosis. Although tumor marker levels are not diagnostic for cancer and should be combined with other forms of testing, they can be used to track cancer burden on the body as well as treatment effectiveness of conventional or naturopathic treatments.
Circulating Tumor Cells Testing: This is a blood quantification of cells that have broken off the primary tumor and are now circulating in the blood. It is a good indication of tumor burden on the body as well as a good marker for treatment progress (chemo-sensitivity and naturopathic treatments). Circulating tumor cell testing helps us guide our treatment plan so that it fits your particular needs. Note that our Calgary Naturopathic Doctors know which types of cancer this test is effective in.
Natural Killer (NK) Cell testing: NK cells are white blood cells which defend against tumors as members of the innate immune system. Consequently, reduced count and/or activity of NK cells can be an issue in those already diagnosed with cancer.
The PET scan is an excellent indicator of metastases. It is a full-body image that can detect tumors as small as 1mm in size. This is also a great way to measure disease progression and effectiveness of treatment.
Other imaging techniques include ultrasound, X-rays, MRI and CT Scans. Some of these are routinely done in order to diagnose particular kinds of cancer and some are done routinely to determine progression of cancer.
Biopsy is the only definitive method used to diagnose and determine pathology of a cancer. Keep in mind that there are various organs that can have cancer, but that there are a variety of malignant cell types that can only be determined from a biopsy.
PCA3 testing: A urine test that determines a patients risk of having prostate cancer.
Genetic testing: BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations. The presence of these genetic mutations can aid in prevention protocols for patients and also determine risk to family members, should they have these genetic mutations. See Breast Cancer for more information