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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Breast Cancer – Metastatic (STAGE IV), Version 2.2017


Treatment planning

Imaging tests

Imaging tests

Imaging tests make pictures (images) of the insides

of your body. They can show which sites have

cancer. This information helps your doctors stage

the cancer. Certain imaging tests also reveal some

features of a tumor and its cells.

A radiologist is a doctor who’s an expert in reading

images. Your radiologist will convey the imaging

results to your cancer doctor. This information helps

your doctor decide what the next steps of care

should be.

Your treatment team will tell you how to prepare

for these tests. You may need to stop taking some

medicines and stop eating and drinking for a few

hours before the scan. Tell your team if you get

nervous when in small spaces. You may be given a

medicine called a sedative to help you relax.

Some imaging tests use contrast. Contrast is a dye

that will be injected into your bloodstream. It makes

the pictures clearer. Some people have an allergic

reaction to the dye. Tell your doctor if you’ve had

problems with contrast in the past.

Chest diagnostic CT scan

CT (




omography) with contrast of your

chest is advised. This scan takes many pictures

of a body part from different angles using x-rays.

A computer combines the x-ray images to make a

detailed picture. During the scan, you will need to lie

face up on a table that moves through the machine.

See Figure 5.

Abdomen ± pelvis diagnostic scans

A scan of your abdomen is advised. Your doctor may

also want a scan of your pelvis. Either diagnostic CT

or MRI (






maging) with contrast

may be used.

MRI is an imaging test that uses a magnetic field and

radio waves to make pictures. Before the scan, you

Figure 5. CT machine

Pictures of the insides of your body can

be made with an imaging test. During the

scan, 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 cancer.

Copyright © 2016 National Comprehensive Cancer Network