NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Esophageal Cancer
Part 2: Cancer staging
A CT scan is an imaging test that makes pictures (images)
of the insides of your body. It takes many pictures of a
body part from different angles using x-rays. The amount
of radiation used is often small. A computer combines the
x-rays to make detailed pictures.
A CT scan of your chest and abdomen are recommended.
A CT scan of your pelvis is recommended if other tests
suggest that the cancer has spread to your pelvis. A contrast
dye should be used to make the pictures clearer. The dye
will be injected into your vein and mixed with a liquid you
drink. The dye may cause you to feel flushed or get hives.
Rarely, serious allergic reactions occur. Tell your doctor and
the technicians if you have had bad reactions in the past.
Getting a CT scan is often easy. Before the test, you may
need to stop taking some medicines, stop eating and
drinking for a few hours, and remove metal objects from
your body. During the scan, you will need to lie face up on
a table that moves through the machine. See Figure 4. As
the machine takes pictures, you may hear buzzing, clicking,
or whirring sounds. You will be alone, but a technician will
operate the machine in a nearby room. He or she will be
able to see, hear, and speak with you at all times. One scan
is completed in about 30 seconds.
You will likely be able to resume your activities right away
unless you took a sedative. You may not learn of the results
for a few days since a radiologist needs to see the pictures.
A radiologist is a doctor who’s an expert in reading
Figure 4. CT machine