Supporting women whose lives have been touched by breast cancer


PREPARATION: For an abdominal CT scan, you will be asked not to have anything to eat from midnight the night before your scan. For chest and pelvis and head CT’s, there is no preparation.

CT scans are used to help your physicians stage your cancer. CT’s are high powered xrays which are used to look at your internal anatomy and see if there is an underlying cancer cells. Breast cancer likes to spread to lungs, liver and bones and as a result, the doctor may send you for a CT scan at some point in your treatment.

For a CT scan you may be asked to come 1 hour before your appt time in order for you to drink a liquid which is an oral contrast. This oral contrast helps outline your internal anatomy and aids the physicians in seeing your insides much clearer. When it is time for your examination, you will be asked to get changed into a hospital gown and then you will lie down on a table and have your pictures taken.

Depending on what part of the body, your doctor has requested a scan of you may receive an injection of intravenous contrast. This is an iodinated contrast medium so anyone with an allergy to iodine shouldn’t have this material. The nurse will set up a cannula and then when you are changed and lying on the table, you will be given an injection of contrast. When you are given this injection, you will feel quite warm in the groin region and quite flushed. It is a similar sensation to feeling like you have wet yourself. This is normal and will go away shortly after the injection. More pictures will be taken after you have received this injection and then you will be able to go home.

WARNING: It is possible to have an allergic reaction to the contrast. Please tell your nurse immediately if you feel any different. For example you feel short of breath or have tightness in your chest or throat. Those people who have allergies to iodine or shellfish should check with their physician prior to having a CT with contrast.

A non contrast CT is very fast and you may only be in the department for 30 minutes. However, if you are having a contrast CT, you may be in the department for 1.5 to 2 hours.