Understanding Your Diagnosis

Finding out that you or a loved one has cancer can be overwhelming. You may have many questions. Or you may not even know where to begin or what questions to ask. In this section, we'll help you understand how a diagnosis of cancer is made and what it means. We'll answer some of the most common questions about cancer and offer suggestions to help you talk about it with your health care team and with people close to you.

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Cancer Basics

Information from our Learn About Cancer section can help you learn some of the basics about cancer, such as what it is, what causes it, and how many people it affects.

woman getting ct scan

Exams and Test Descriptions

Learn about the tests doctors commonly use to look for and diagnose cancer, to help determine if it has spread, and to monitor it during treatment.

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After Diagnosis: A Guide for Patients and Families

Finding out you have cancer can present many changes for you and your loved ones. Simply having answers to your questions can help you feel more in control and less worried about what lies ahead. To help you and your family as you work through your fears and concerns about cancer and its treatment, we offer answers to some common questions and give you an idea of what you can expect from the people and services that are there to help you cope with cancer.

Female doctor examines xrays

Staging Your Cancer

Staging is the process of finding out how much cancer there is in the body and where it is located. Doctors use this information to plan treatment and to help predict a person's outlook (prognosis).


Understanding Your Pathology Report

This series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) was developed by the association of Directors of Anatomic and Surgical Pathology to help patients and their families better understand what their pathology report means. These FAQs have been endorsed by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and reviewed by the American Cancer Society.

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Advanced Cancer

Advanced cancers have usually spread from where they started to other parts of the body. This is known as metastatic cancer. But not all advanced cancers are metastatic.

bone xray and doctors

Bone Metastasis

Cancer cells that break off from a primary tumor and enter the bloodstream or lymph vessels can reach nearly all tissues of the body. Bones are a common place for these cancer cells to settle and start growing. Tumors that result from these cells entering the bones are called bone metastases.

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Talking About Cancer

Talking about cancer can be hard. Here you'll find tips to help make it easier to talk with others about cancer, including the health care team and your family, friends, and co-workers.

I Can Cope Online

I Can Cope Online Class - Learning About Cancer

For a quick, easy way to learn important facts and practical tips about cancer and related issues, participate in our interactive online program, I Can Cope—Online. There is never any charge to participate, and you set the pace—whenever and wherever is most convenient for you.  This class focuses on cancer basics.

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