One of the things conventional medicine prides itself on is its diagnoses. But much of the credit goes not to doctors, but to the technologists who have created increasingly sophisticated ways of peering into the human body.
* Choose ‘fine-needle aspiration’ performed under ultrasound; it is thought to carry the least risks (Acta Cytol, 1995; 39: 449-52)
* Lung: PET scans are just as accurate as biopsies, with no significant health risks (Appl Radiol, 2003; 32: 9-17).
* Breast: MRI has variable accuracy (60-100 per cent)
People with AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) should beware of biopsies, according to doctors in the USA.