Staging is the process of determining if and how far the cancer has spread. Treatment options are based on the results of staging. Procedures for determining stage include the following:
- Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan) - a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs. CT scans are more detailed than general x-rays.
- Lymphangiography - x-ray images of the lymph system in which dye is injected into a lymph vessel to improve images. This test is rarely done, as CT scans can often provide the same information about the lymph nodes.
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) - a diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets, radiofrequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body. It is sometimes used to look for spread of the cancer to the brain.
In addition to these imaging procedures, chest x-rays, positron emission tomography (PET) scans, or other scans may be requested.