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Tests to stage

The stage of a cancer means how big it is and whether it has spread. Knowing the stage of the cancer helps your doctor to decide which treatment you need.

After breast cancer is diagnosed you have a lymph node ultrasound and biopsy to check the lymph nodes under the arm. You might have one or more of the other tests if cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes or you have symptoms that could be due to cancer spread.

Lymph node ultrasound and biopsy

A lymph node ultrasound checks for any changes in the lymph nodes under the arm and a sample might be taken using a biopsy needle.

MRI scan

An MRI scan can show changes in the body by using magnetism and radio waves to create pictures. It can help to show whether breast cancer has spread.

CT scan

A CT scan can show whether breast cancer has spread to the lungs or liver. It can also show changes caused by other medical conditions.

Liver ultrasound

A liver CT scan can show changes in the liver caused by cancer or other medical conditions. Find out how you have it.

Bone scan

A bone scan can show changes in the bone using a mildly radioactive liquid and a special scanner. It can help to show whether breast cancer has spread to the bone.

Last reviewed: 
23 Oct 2017

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