Imaging (Radiology) Tests

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Factors that determine which imaging tests are used in different types of cancer

Many different scans are used to get images of what’s happening inside the body, including x-rays, ultrasound, CT or MRI scans, nuclear medicine scans, and others. The tests your health care team recommends may depend on a number of factors, such as:

  • Where the tumor is and what type it is; some imaging tests work better for certain organs or tissues
  • Whether or not a biopsy (tissue sample) is needed
  • Your age, gender, and health
  • The balance between any risks or side effects and the expected benefits
  • Cost

More information about the tests used for a certain cancer type can be found in our detailed guide about that cancer. For example, our Bladder Cancer detailed guide talks about tests used to find and stage bladder cancer.

If you have questions about a test that your health care team wants you to have, ask them to explain why you need the test, what it could find, the pros and cons of having the test, and if there are any alternatives to the test that you should consider.


Last Medical Review: 03/16/2015
Last Revised: 03/16/2015