Doctors use pictures of facial skin cancer to help diagnose which stage the cancer is in. A CT scan and a MRI are two different ways a doctor can take an image of the face to determine where and how far the cancer has spread, according to the National Cancer Institute.
These images allow doctors to better assess how facial skin cancer is affecting patients by looking below the surface of the skin, explains the National Cancer Institute. By using these pictures, doctors determine which skin cells are healthy and which ones are diseased. This information allows doctors to diagnose the patient and recommend a course of treatment. With the proper imaging, a diagnosis is more accurate, and thus the course of treatment is more accurate. A CT scan, sometimes called a CAT scan, creates images of inside the body using a computer connected to an X-ray machine.
A MRI, or magnetic resonance imaging, creates similar images using magnets, radio waves and a computer, states the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. In some rare cases, both MRIs or CT scans may be used extensively on skin cancer patients to identify if the cancer has spread to internal organs or bones. This additional imaging may alter a doctor's recommended course of treatment.