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How can you identify a tumor?

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Quick Answer

A biopsy is one common method for identifying a tumor, according to the Mayo Clinic. To have a biopsy, a patient has a physician remove a small amount of tissue for a pathologist to examine it under a microscope.

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How can you identify a tumor?
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Full Answer

A tumor is any abnormal mass of tissue, as explained by Mayo Clinic. Tumors, like some cysts, can be cancerous. However, tumors and cysts have distinct properties. A cyst is a sac that might be filled with air, fluid or some other material, and they can form anywhere on or in the body. Most cysts are benign, which means that they are noncancerous. While tumors are similar to cysts in that they can form anywhere on the body, bones and organs, tumors can be either cancerous or benign. Only a biopsy can determine whether a cyst or tumor is malignant, or cancerous.

While a biopsy is required to identify a tumor, the American Cancer Society recommends that adults have regular cancer screenings to help locate possible tumors. Mammograms, colonoscopies and Pap tests are some examples of cancer screenings that help medical professionals detect tumors as early as possible. In addition, the American Cancer Society recommends that adults have regular physical examinations and periodically complete a self examination to find areas of concern.

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