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Tests and Procedures That May Be Used in the Staging Process of Melanoma
The following tests and procedures may be used in the staging process:
Lymph node mapping and sentinel lymph node biopsy
Procedures in which a radioactive substance (generally a sulfur colloid) and/or blue dye is injected around the skin melanoma or biopsy scar. The substance or dye travels through the skin lymph channels (lymphatics) to the sentinel node or nodes (the first lymph node or nodes where cancer cells are likely to have spread). The surgeon removes only the nodes with that emit a certain degree of radioactivity and/or demonstrate the colored dye. A dermatopathologist then checks the sentinel lymph nodes for cancer cells. If no cancer cells are detected, it is not necessary to remove additional regional lymph nodes.
A chest X-ray is a type of diagnostic radiology procedure used to examine the chest and the organs and structures located in the chest. Chest X-rays may be used to assess the lungs, as well as the heart (either directly or indirectly) by looking at the heart itself. Certain conditions of the heart may cause changes in the lungs and/or the vessels of the lungs.
Computed tomography scan (CT or CAT scan) is a non-invasive diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of special X-ray equipment and sophisticated computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body. These cross-sectional images of the area being studied can then be examined on a computer monitor or printed.
A magnetic resonance (REZ-oh-nans) imaging scan is usually called an MRI. An MRI does not use radiation (X-rays) and is a noninvasive medical test or examination. The MRI machine uses a large magnet and a computer to take pictures of the inside of your body. Each picture or "slice" shows only a few layers of body tissue at a time. The pictures can then be examined on a computer monitor.
Positron emission tomography, also called PET imaging or a PET scan, is a type of nuclear medicine imaging. A PET scan measures important body functions, such as blood flow, oxygen use, and sugar (glucose) metabolism, to help doctors evaluate how well organs and tissues are functioning.
Laboratory tests include a range of blood and urine tests. Blood work may include testing for genetics (inherited disorders) or to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood. Urine tests may be performed to check blood, chemicals, bacteria, and cells for infection or other abnormalities.
A blood chemistry study is a procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease in the organ or tissue that makes it.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.