Tests after a mouth, head or neck cancer diagnosis

Doctor talking to a male patient

You may have more tests after your diagnosis to find out:

  • How large is the cancer?
  • Where exactly is the cancer?
  • Has the cancer spread to any other parts of your body?

This is called staging. The biopsy sample can also be used to grade your cancer. This tells the doctor how fast it’s likely to grow.

Some of these tests can also be used to check how you are responding to treatment.

  • CT scan: A special type of X-ray to give a picture of the tissues inside your body.
  • MRI scan: A scan that uses magnetic energy to build up a picture of the tissues in your chest, abdomen and pelvis. During the scan you will lie inside a tunnel-like machine.
  • PET scan: A radioactive injection that will show up any cancer that has spread to other parts of your body on a CT scan picture. 
  • Ultrasound scan: Some gel is first put on your neck and the area is then scanned with a hand-held device called a probe. The probe changes the sound waves into an image of your neck on the computer. It can show any abnormal changes.

These tests will help your doctor to decide on the best treatment for you.

For more information

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