NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Melanoma, Version 1.2014
Tests for melanoma
An MRI (
maging) scan is like
a CT scan except it uses radio waves and powerful
magnets to take pictures of the inside of the body.
MRI is very useful for looking at the soft tissues,
brain, spinal cord, and specific areas in the bone. An
MRI scan may cause your body to feel a bit warm.
Like a CT scan, a contrast dye may be used. MRI
may be used along with other imaging tests or if you
are concerned about radiation exposure from other
A PET/CT (
omography) scan shows how your cells are using a
simple form of sugar. To make the pictures, a sugar
radiotracer first needs to be injected into your vein.
The radiotracer lets out a small amount of energy that
is seen by the machine that takes pictures. Cancer
cells use sugar faster than normal cells, so they look
brighter in the pictures. The CT portion of the scanner
allows the computer to make a three-dimensional
picture of sugar use throughout the body.
Ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to
take pictures of the inside of the body. This test is
sometimes used to get a better look at lymph nodes
near the first (primary) melanoma tumor in certain
situations. For example, your doctor may consider
this test if findings during the physical lymph node
exam were unclear. Or, it may be used if you opted
not to have other lymph node tests or procedures
such as a sentinel lymph node biopsy or lymph node
For this test, you will lie on a table and have a gel
spread over your skin in the area of the lymph
nodes. Your doctor will then glide a hand-held device
back and forth over the gel area. This device sends
out sound waves that bounce off the lymph nodes
and other tissues in your body to make echoes. A
computer uses the echoes to make a picture of the
lymph nodes, shown on a computer screen.