• Diagnostic Tools

    After prevention, early detection is the next best way to protect yourself against cancer. At Anne Arundel Medical Center, our doctors and technicians combine their expertise with the most advanced technology available to find cancer as early as possible. The earlier we find it and treat it, the better your chances of beating the disease.

    For example, when you discover a lump in your breast, you want a mammogram right away. At AAMC, we provide comprehensive diagnostic services. If your mammogram reveals a trouble spot, we can quickly complete more in-depth tests, like a 3-D mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy, to get a clearer picture of what’s going on.

    Diagnosing Cancer

    The most effective cancer treatment begins with an accurate diagnosis. If you have symptoms or results from a screening test that suggest cancer, your doctor will need to do testing to determine if cancer exists. There are many different diagnostic tests and procedures available to diagnose cancer.

    Lab Tests

    Abnormal levels (high or low) of substances in your blood, urine or other body fluids can be signs of cancer. Lab tests measure these substances and can help doctors make a diagnosis.

    Imaging Tests

    Imaging procedures create pictures of areas inside your body. These tests create images in many different ways, such as:

    • Computed tomography (CT) scan: A CT scan uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to take a series of detailed pictures of your body.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): An MRI uses a strong magnet linked to a computer to make detailed images of different areas of your body.
    • Mammogram: A mammogram is an x-ray exam of your breast. A screening mammogram provides two views of each breast and checks for cancer when there are no signs or symptoms of the disease. A diagnostic mammogram checks for cancer after there is a known lump or other sign of cancer.
    • 3-D mammogram: 3-D mammography is an advanced digital technology that allows doctors to see finer details more clearly.
    • Positon emission tomography (PET) scan: This scan uses a tiny amount of a radioactive tracer that’s injected into a vein. The PET scanner highlights where the tracer collects in your body and shows how the organs and tissues are working.
    • PET/CT scan: This scan combines a PET and CT scan into one machine. It provides information about the structure and function of cells and tissues in a single scan. It provides a more detailed picture of cancerous tissue than either test does on its own. AAMC has the only outpatient diagnostic PET/CT scanner in Anne Arundel County.
    • Ultrasound: This procedure uses sound waves and a computer to create images (called sonograms) of blood vessels, tissues and organs. Ultrasound produces a more accurate picture by using a probe that’s inserted into organs, such as the anus, vagina or esophagus.
    • X-ray: X-rays use low doses of radiation to create pictures of tissues, bones and organs.

    Visit our health library to learn more about imaging procedures to diagnose cancer.


    A biopsy is a procedure that takes a small sample of tissues or cells from the body. A pathologist looks at the sample under a microscope to see if it is cancerous. There are three different methods for completing a biopsy:

    • With a needle: The doctor uses a needle to withdraw tissue or fluid.
    • With an endoscope: An endoscope is a thin, lighted tube that allows the doctor to look at areas inside your body. The scope is inserted through an opening, such as your mouth. Then the doctor uses a special tool to remove the cells or tissues through the tube.
    • With surgery: In an incisional biopsy, the surgeon removes part of a tumor. An excisional biopsy is a procedure to remove the entire tumor. 

    Imaging Centers Close to Where You Live

    We offer comprehensive cancer diagnostic services at the DeCesaris Cancer Institute and the Rebecca Fortney Breast Center. We also have imaging centers throughout Anne Arundel County for your convenience: