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NCCN Guidelines for Patients


Esophageal Cancer, Version 1.2016


Preparing for treatment

Cancer tests

Before the scan, 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 6


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 the images.

PET/CT scan

Sometimes CT is combined with another imaging test

called PET (






omography). When

used to together, they are called a PET/CT scan.

PET/CT is advised when there may be metastases

but a CT scan didn’t detect any.

PET/CT may be done with one or two machines

depending on the cancer center. Before PET, you

must fast for 4 hours or more. There may be other

limits to your diet. About an hour before the scan, you

will be injected with a sugar radiotracer.

The radiotracer emits a small amount of energy that

is detected by the imaging machine. Cancer appears

brighter in the pictures because cancer cells use

sugar more quickly than normal cells. PET can show

even small amounts of cancer because the images

are based on the cells’ use of sugar (cell metabolism).

Figure 6.

CT machine

Pictures of the insides of your body

can be made with an imaging test.

No devices will be inserted into

your body. However, you may be

injected with and have to drink a

contrast dye. During the test, you

will lie on a table that will move into

the tunnel of the imaging machine.

The pictures will be viewed by a

doctor who will look for signs of