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This is outdated documentation describing an older version of TCIA's software stack. Please refer to the Cancer Imaging Archive User's Guide for current documentation.

This chapter describes how to get started using TCIA.  A short video tutorial is also available:

Topics in this chapter include:

Introduction to TCIA

TCIA provides the cancer research and medical community, industry, and academia access to imaging archives that can be used for many purposes, including the potential to assist in the development and validation of analytical software tools supporting these functions:

  • Lesion detection and classification software
  • Accelerated diagnostic imaging decision
  • Quantitative imaging assessment of drug response

The archive provides access to imaging resources that improve the use of imaging in today's cancer research and practice. This access increases the efficiency and reproducibility of imaging cancer detection and diagnosis, leverages imaging to provide an objective assessment of therapeutic response, and ultimately enables the development of imaging resources that will lead to improved clinical decision support.

Clinical trials, physicians and other researchers submit images to TCIA using the CTP (Clinical Trial Processing) software. Any potential user can then access TCIA to search for and download images and associated annotation files.

Images are stored in the medical image standard, Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM). A DICOM file stores the digital image along with a series of tags that contain metadata about the image such as patient ID, study ID, patient weight, anatomic site, and so forth. More information about DICOM

Here is a short video introduction to TCIA:

Refresh button

The TCIA application does not support the refresh button. You are encouraged to refrain from using it when in the application.

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Registering a New User

To access both the TCIA wiki and the archive of DICOM images, you must follow these steps to register as a new user.

  1. Start at Click Search Data Portal button.
  2. Click the Register Now link in the Register Now panel as shown below.
    Register Now
    The legal provisions page appears.
  3. Review the text on the page and click the CLICKING HERE link at the bottom to indicate your agreement.
  4. Enter the challenge word(s) on the CAPCHA page. Click Verify.
    The registration form appears.
    New User Registration. Password Self-Service page.
  5. All fields are required. The username may have a period and an @ symbol, but no other special characters are allowed in usernames. The password can have any special characters.
  6. Click Create.
    Once you have submitted your entry form, an automated handshake email will be sent to your address. Once you confirm the account registration, your account is registered.

    If you are registering here for access to a private space within TCIA's wiki, you may additionally need to request access to that restricted space by sending an email to TCIA Help Desk. In this email, include your username and the URL of the wiki to which you want access.

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Using TCIA Without Logging In

You do not have to log in to access public data in TCIA. Simply begin to use the features on the Welcome page.

You can use the search function as a "guest" without logging in. All data that TCIA returns without being logged in is public. As a guest, you can add data to the data basket. For more information, see Working with the Data Basket.

If you are not logged into the application, some functions are unavailable; these are saving a search query, viewing saved queries, viewing query histories, and managing saved queries. You also cannot download more than 3 gigabytes of data at one time.

If the application is configured to enable the guest account access, the login section will be "hidden" by the login link by default. Additionally, you should be able to see the Search Image link on the home page.

Bypassing Login

In some cases of local installation, the decision may have been made not to enable public data access without login. If the application is configured to disable the guest account access, the login section is "expanded" by default. If that's the case, there is no way for the user to bypass login and perform tasks.

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Logging into TCIA

Open the TCIA data portal. The welcome page appears.

If you do not have a User ID or password, click Register Now to apply for a user account. For more information, see Registering a New User.

If you have already registered, perform the following steps to log in.

  1. In the User Login panel, enter your User ID and password.
    User Login dialog box
  2. Click Login. If your login is successful, the data portal appears.


    TCIA uses popups. To prevent problems accessing the application, in your browser, enable a popup blocker exception for

    If you have persistent difficulty logging in, click I cannot access my account on the TCIA login page. A TCIA Account Help topic opens, describing help options for resolving your login problem. Alternately, contact the TCIA Help Desk.

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Using the TCIA Home Page

When you first open the TCIA Data Portal, you can search images without logging in. You can also view information about obtaining DICOM Viewers, learn about persistent references (DOIs), learn about programmatic interfaces (APIs), and get support.

TCIA home page before you log in

After you log in, you have more options.
TCIA home page if you log in

Options available from this page and links to more information about them follow.


Menu Option


For more information, see

Try the Beta Search
The Beta Search features a new interface for the TCIA Data Portal. You can submit feedback and suggestions on this new interface.TCIA Data Portal User Guide



Return to the TCIA Home page.


Search Images

Simple Search

Open the Simple Search page.

Performing a Simple Search

 Text SearchOpen the Text Search page.Performing a Text Search
 Advanced SearchOpen the Advanced Search page.Performing an Advanced Search

Manage Data Basket


Open the My Data Basket page. This is the same option as choosing Manage Data Basket from the menu bar.

Working with the Data Basket


List DICOM Image Viewers

Open a page displaying links to freeware DICOM image viewers.

Obtaining DICOM Viewers

Persistent References (DOIs)Opens TCIA Analysis Results.

Programmatic Interface (APIs)Opens the TCIA Programmatic Interface REST API Guides.
 View Saved QueriesOpen the Saved Queries page.Working with Saved Queries
 View Query HistoryOpen the Query History page.Viewing Query History
 Create Shared ListOpen the Create Shared List page.Creating a Shared List
 Edit Shared ListOpen the Edit Shared List page.Editing a Shared List
 Search Shared ListOpen the Search Shared List page.Searching a Shared List

Perform QC

Evaluate a submission and assign a QC status.

Only administrative users have access to this menu. If you believe you should have access, contact the TCIA helpdesk.

Using the Quality Control (QC) Tool

 Approve DeletionsApprove the deletion of image series marked for deletion.
Approving Image Deletions
 Manage Shared ListDelete shared lists created by other users.Managing a Shared List
 View Submission ReportsRun reports to verify that images have been received and to monitor the status of the submitted images.Viewing Submission Reports
 Perform Online DeletionsImmediately remove images that are marked as approved for deletion.Manually Deleting Image Series
 Edit Collection DescriptionsAdd a brief description for a collection so that TCIA users know what data is in the collection.Editing a Collection Description
 Manage Workflow ItemsCreate, edit, and delete workflow items that involve changing the visibility status of an image series and/or trigger a web service call to a URL.Managing Workflow Items
 Manage Saved QueriesReview and delete saved queries.Managing Saved Queries



Open a browser window with support options.

TCIA Support

Logout Log out of TCIA and return to the TCIA home page. 

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Using TCIA Online Help

The TCIA online help retrieves topics from the TCIA User's Guide. It explains how to use all of the features of the TCIA data portal.

Not logged in?

You can open the user's guide without being logged into TCIA.

Click Help > User Guides in the top menu bar to open the TCIA User's Guide on the TCIA wiki.

On any application page, click help button to open the help topic that applies to features available on that TCIA page.

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