Skin Cancer Imaging Test
Imaging is not generally necessary at the time of initial diagnosis or in follow-up care unless symptoms suggest a more advanced skin cancer. In this case, your doctor may schedule you for certain imaging studies to determine whether your skin cancer has spread. A radiologist will interpret these images to identify any cancer.
Diagnostic imaging tests
This additional information helps our doctors determine whether suspicious tissue spots are skin cancer. Your doctor may recommend an imaging test because other evidence suggested the skin cancer may not be contained to the initial skin spot or nearby lymph node.
A variety of imaging tests are possible, including PET/CT and CT imaging.
PET and CT scans
A positron emission tomography (PET) scan is a nuclear imaging test that uses a small amount of radioactive material to highlight areas of suspicious cells. Computed tomography (CT) scans use X-ray technology to take cross-sectional images of the body. We use these technologies alone or combined, depending on the information we need from the scans.
Our doctors use PET scans to:
- Determine whether skin cancer has spread to more lymph nodes or other parts of the body and, if so, where
- Monitor how well skin cancer responds to treatment
- See if cancer has returned after treatment
We offer combined PET/CT scanning, which takes both scans at the same time and in the same machine to keep you in the same position. This technique allows us to combine CT images of the body with PET scans that highlight possible areas of cancer.
The combined PET/CT images show the locations of any cancer, providing more information for treatment. We use PET/CT scans to:
- Stage skin cancer
- Check other parts of the body to see if skin cancer has spread there
- Monitor skin cancer's response to treatment
Current as of: 9/2019
Stanford Health Education, 2020