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Chest X-Rays

Reviewed by: Emily F. Conant, MD

Updated October 1, 2010

A chest x-ray is a test in which a machine takes a picture of your lungs, heart, airways, blood vessels and bones of the chest and upper back to assess the health of this area of the body. The test can be used to check if cancer is present in the lungs, if you have invasive breast cancer. When you are in treatment, a chest-x-ray can be used to monitor whether a treatment for cancer in the lungs is working, to look for the cause of shortness of breath or to check for pneumonia.

During a chest x-ray, you will be exposed to a very small amount of radiation. You will not have to prepare for the test, but you may need to remove some clothing. You cannot wear jewelry, eyeglasses or other metal objects during the test.

You will stand against an x-ray machine, or you will lie on a table with an x-ray machine above you. The test itself takes less than a minute, but you will need to stay in the testing center until the technician makes sure that the pictures are clear.