NCCN Guidelines for Patients
: Caring for Adolescents and Young Adults
Part 2: Dealing with the diagnosis
When a tumor is suspected, doctors want to get a look at
exactly where it is and how large it is. Imaging tests are
used to take pictures of the inside of your body. They allow
doctors to see the primary tumor, and also to see if there is
evidence of cancer in other places in your body. Common
imaging tests include x-rays; CT (
scans, which use x-rays from many angles to make a
picture of the inside of the body; MRI (
maging) scans; and PET (
For most imaging tests, you just have to lie there and let
the machine do the work. The hardest part is staying still
and not getting bored. For some tests, you may also have
to take a special contrast material that will highlight a
particular part of the body so it shows up better on the scan.
Sometimes this material is injected in a vein, sometimes
it’s given in an enema, and sometimes it’s administered
as a not-particularly-tasty drink called a barium swallow. A
barium swallow is a liquid containing barium sulfate that is
swallowed to coat and outline the walls of the esophagus
and upper GI (
ntestinal) tract so they can be seen
on an x-ray. More often than not, there are no side effects
after going through an imaging test. If radiation is used, the
amount is small.
The pictures produced during imaging tests will be reviewed
by a radiologist, who will provide your doctor with a report
on what the tests show. A radiologist is a doctor who’s an
expert in reading imaging tests. It may take several days to
receive this report.
Your doctor should provide you with information on
the tests you will be having, including their potential
risks and what you need to do to prepare. The
questions below can serve as a guideline to help you
fill in any gaps as you talk with your doctor.
What tests will I have?
Where and when will the tests take place?
How long will they take?
Will I be awake?
Will it hurt?
What are the risks?
How do I prepare for testing?
How soon will I know the results and who will
explain them to me?
Who will talk with me about the next steps?
Questions to ask your doctor about: