X-rays and scans to test for childhood cancer

X-rays and scans to test for childhood cancer

X-rays and scans take pictures of various parts of the body. Bones show up most clearly but other tissues can also be seen. They don't hurt but it is necessary to remain still for them to be done successfully. Sometimes this can be uncomfortable, especially if it is for a long time, and the anaesthetist may give an anaesthetic or some sedation for this reason.

What are x-rays?

X-rays and scans take pictures of various parts of the body. Bones show up most clearly but other tissues can also be seen.

Do x-rays and scans hurt?

X-rays and scans don't hurt but it is necessary to remain still for them to be done successfully.  Sometimes this can be uncomfortable, especially if it is for a long time, and the anaesthetist may give an anaesthetic or some sedation for this reason.

What kinds of x-rays and scans might my child have?

CT scan (computerised axial tomography)

A CT scan is a type of x-ray which uses a computer to make a three dimensional picture of an inside part of the body. It is sometimes necessary for the child to drink some special dye or have the dye injected into a vein, before the x-rays are taken.

Nuclear medicine scan

There are several types of nuclear medicine scans. Their purpose is to look for cancer cells or infection. Dye is injected into a vein and areas of concern are highlighted as pictures are taken.

MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging)

The MRI scanner uses magnetic waves to create an image of the inside of the body.

Ultrasound Scan

An ultrasound works by bouncing sound waves off solid parts of the body, creating a picture that can be seen on a screen. Gel is put on the skin above the area to be examined and then a small round handle is moved on the skin.

All the information in the Childhood cancer section of this website has been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the National Child Cancer Network Clinical Leader.

This page last reviewed 02 April 2013.
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