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, MRI, 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 studies work better for certain organs or tissues
  • Whether or not a biopsy (tissue sample) is needed
  • 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 the purpose of the test.


Last Medical Review: 01/11/2013
Last Revised: 08/09/2013