Interpreting Laboratory Test Results:
A laboratory test is a medical procedure in which a sample of blood, urine, or other tissues or substances in the body is checked for certain features. Such tests are often used as part of a routine check-up to identify possible changes in a person’s health before any symptoms appear. Laboratory tests also play an important role in diagnosis when a person has symptoms. In addition, tests may be used to help plan a patient’s treatment, evaluate the response to treatment, or monitor the course of the disease over time.
Laboratory test samples are analyzed to determine whether the results fall within normal ranges. They also may be checked for changes from previous tests. Normal test values are usually given as a range, rather than as a specific number, because normal values vary from person to person. What is normal for one person may not be normal for another person. Many factors (including the patient’s sex, age, race, medical history, and general health) can affect test results. Sometimes, test results are affected by specific foods, drugs the patient is taking, and how closely the patient follows pre-test instructions. That is why a patient may be asked not to eat or drink for several hours before a test. It is also common for normal ranges to vary somewhat from laboratory to laboratory.
Some laboratory tests are precise, reliable indicators of specific health problems. Others provide more general information that simply gives doctors clues to possible health problems. Information obtained from laboratory tests may help doctors decide whether other tests or procedures are needed to make a diagnosis. The information may also help the doctor develop or revise a patient’s treatment plan. All laboratory test results must be interpreted in the context of the overall health of the patient and are generally used along with other exams or tests. The doctor who is familiar with the patient’s medical history and current condition is in the best position to explain test results and their implications. Patients are encouraged to discuss questions or concerns about laboratory test results with the doctor.
Pap and HPV Testing:
Cervical cancer screening, which includes the Pap test and HPV testing, is an essential part of a woman's routine health care because it can detect cancer or abnormalities that may lead to cancer of the cervix.
Current guidelines recommend that women should have a Pap test every 3 years beginning at age 21. These guidelines further recommend that women ages 30 to 65 should have HPV and Pap co-testing every 5 years or a Pap test alone every 3 years. Women with certain risk factors may need to have more frequent screening or to continue screening beyond age 65.
Women who have received the HPV vaccine still need regular cervical screening.
Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test:
The PSA test measures the blood level of PSA, a protein that is produced by the prostate gland. The higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. However, there are additional reasons for having an elevated PSA level, and some men who have prostate cancer do not have elevated PSA.
The PSA test has been widely used to screen men for prostate cancer. It is also used to monitor men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer to see if their cancer has recurred (come back) after initial treatment or is responding to therapy.
Some advisory groups now recommend against the use of the PSA test to screen for prostate cancer because the benefits, if any, are small and the harms can be substantial. None recommend its use without a detailed discussion of the pros and cons of using the test.
Biopsy is also helpful to conform the disease is whether malignant or not in all type of cancer. Sometimes all the test may show the positive results against patients, in that biopsy all needs to be done to avoid the confusion.
1. Which type of cancer can be detected through the pap test?
a) Lung cancer
b) Brain tumour
c) Abdominal cancer
d) Cancer of cervix
d) Cancer of Cervix
Dictionary of Cancer Terms
Need help understanding a word? Here is an electronic resource that gives meaning to Cancer terms and their usage.