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Adrenal Cancer: Diagnosis and Staging

Adrenal cancer is diagnosed with a variety of imaging techniques and other tests, including:

Computed tomography (CT)
A CT scan uses x-rays to take an internal picture. Instead of taking just one picture, as does a normal chest x-ray, a CT scanner takes many pictures as it rotates. A computer then combines all the pictures taken and creates images that are like "slices" of your body. The machine will create multiple slices, giving doctors a much more powerful image than a single chest x-ray. CT images can give doctors precise information about tumors including; shape, size, and location.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI uses radio waves and a large magnet to create an internal image. The process by which an image is created is complicated. This exam is used to find lung cancer that has spread to the brain or spinal cord.

Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
Positron emission tomography uses an injection of a specially labeled substance that is absorbed in large amounts by cancer cells. This substance is then detected by a special camera in the PET scanner. The image produces indicates areas with large amounts of the substance. Doctors can use the image to find lung cancer that has spread to other areas.

Blood Chemistry Study
A blood sample is checked to measure the amount of certain substances including potassium or sodium. An abnormal amount of these substances can signal a problem with the adrenal gland.

Adrenal Venography/Angiography
This procedure uses a dye to look at the veins and arteries and the flow of blood near the adrenal gland. Abnormal flow can signal a problem with the adrenal gland.

24 Urine Test and Dexamethasone Test
This test is used to detect the level of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is a hormone released by the adrenal gland.