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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Version 1.2017


Testing for ALL

Imaging tests

MRI scan







maging) uses radio

waves and magnets to take pictures of the inside

the body. MRI scans create clear pictures of soft

tissues and bones. MRI scans are also very helpful

for looking at the brain and spinal cord. An MRI scan

of your head and/or spinal cord should be done if you

have symptoms that suggest ALL might have spread

to your brain and spinal cord.

PET scan







omography) shows how

your cells are using a simple form of sugar. For a

PET scan, a sugar radiotracer will first be injected

into your body. The radiotracer is detected by a

special camera during the scan. Any cells that use

sugar more quickly, including normal cells (such as

those within the brain) and abnormal cells (such as

leukemia), can be detected by this scan. PET scans

are often combined with a CT scan to help your

doctors better understand which areas of the body

may be impacted by leukemia. Like standard CT

imaging, PET/CT imaging is most helpful when your

doctor suspects there may be leukemia growing in

places other than the bone marrow.


An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to take

pictures of the inside of the body. For males, this test

may be ordered after a testicular exam to examine

the area further. An ultrasound of the scrotum (sac

that contains the testicles) may be needed. It can

show if there is a mass in the testicles. If a mass is

present, it will help doctors see if it is solid or fluid-

filled (cyst). Cysts are usually not cancer (benign).

Echocardiogram or cardiac nuclear

medicine scan

An echocardiogram is an imaging test of your heart.

It uses sound waves to make pictures. This test

is used to check how well your heart is working. It

shows your doctor how your heart is beating and

pumping blood.

A cardiac nuclear medicine scan also assesses how

your heart is working. This test uses a radiotracer,

just like a PET scan, to get detailed pictures. It can

help doctors see how well your heart is able to pump


Some treatments for ALL can damage your heart.

Thus, your doctor may want to test how well your

heart works in order to plan the best treatment. This

is especially true for an MRI scan.