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Tests You May Need to Evaluate Laryngeal Cancer

Technician preparing patient for a CT scan

Your doctor needs to know as much as possible about the cancer in order to recommend the most effective treatment. After you’ve been told you have laryngeal cancer, you may need these tests to learn more about its size, location, and how far it has spread:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan is a special X-ray used to determine the location and the extent, or stage, of the cancer in the larynx, as well as whether it involves any other parts of the body, including the neck. A scanner directs X-ray beams at the body from various angles. The X-rays are then put together by a computer to get a detailed picture of the body.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRIs use radio waves and magnets to produce cross-sectional images of the body. These images often show more detail than CT scans. However, CT scans are usually adequate to find out the extent of the cancer and to plan treatment.

  • Barium swallow. This test is a series of X-rays taken after you swallow a barium-containing liquid. This liquid can be easily seen on X-rays, making it easier for the doctor to determine the extent of the cancer.

  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan. This scan uses a radioactive substance injected into the blood to find out whether the tumor has spread to other parts of the body.