X-rays are used to image the chest, abdomen and all bony structures in the body, and are often used as the first line of diagnosis for common medical conditions. 

X-ray examinations are very quick and entirely painless to have taken. They use ionising radiation - this does not make the patient radioactive.

The X-ray department at The Royal Marsden is entirely digital – all images are taken and viewed on computers. We take X-ray images of all parts of the body as well as undertaking more complex studies of internal organs.

Patients are referred for an X-ray by their Royal Marsden consultant or team, not by their GP. A single X-ray does not require a booking but more complex studies will take longer and therefore need to be pre-arranged.

Types of X-ray examination

Skeletal survey examinations are a series of X-rays of every part of the body, different positions are used to obtain the images.

Contrast studies will take longer than standard X-rays and will involve administering an X-ray dye to enhance the kidneys, stomach or bowel.


For most examinations the only preparation will be changing into a gown, and removing jewellery and clothing with buttons or zips. For some examinations, fasting or bowel preparation may be required – if this is the case, any instructions will be given at the time of booking.

Examination results

The results of the X-rays will be available to you via your Royal Marsden consultant or team at your next clinic appointment. No results will be available at the X-ray appointment itself as they have to be reported by a radiologist first.