Further tests for liver cancer
This page tells you about further tests you may have if you have been diagnosed with primary liver cancer. You can find the following information
Further tests for liver cancer
If your earlier tests show you have liver cancer, your specialist may ask you to have further tests to see if the cancer has spread or not. The results will help your doctor decide on the best possible treatment for you. These further tests may include chest X-rays, a CT scan or MRI scan and possibly hepatic angiography.
Hepatic angiography is useful for doctors to see the arteries that supply blood to the liver. And to see how close any liver tumours are to major blood vessels. The test is done in the X-ray department. You may have it as an outpatient or you may need to stay in hospital overnight. The doctor injects a dye into one of your arteries. The dye travels through your bloodstream. X-ray pictures show the blood vessels as the dye reaches your liver.
After the tests
Your doctor will ask you to go back to the hospital when your test results have come through. This is bound to take a little time, even if only a week or so. You are likely to feel anxious during this time. While you are waiting for results it may help to talk to your cancer specialist nurse, or a close friend or relative about how you are feeling. Or you may want to contact a cancer support group to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.
You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the diagnosing liver cancer section.
If your tests show you have liver cancer, your specialist may ask you to have further tests to find out more about it, including whether the cancer has spread or not.
X-rays use low doses of radiation to take pictures of different parts of your body. Having an X-ray does not hurt. You may have a chest X-ray to check for signs of cancer in your lungs. This is because hepatocellular cancer can sometimes spread to the lungs. X-rays are also used to check the condition of your lungs if you are going to have surgery under a general anaesthetic.
You may have a bone scan to check for any cancer spread to the bones. If it looks like you may have a liver transplant for example, your doctor will want to make sure there is no cancer spread to the bones or anywhere else in your body.
We have detailed information about having a bone scan.
This test is not used very often, but it can help to show how close any liver tumours are to major blood vessels.
The test is done in the X-ray department. You may be able to have it as an outpatient or your specialist may prefer you to stay overnight. After you have changed into a hospital gown and are lying on the X-ray couch, you have a dye injected into one of your arteries. This is usually an artery in your groin. The dye travels through your bloodstream. The radiographer takes X-ray pictures as it reaches your liver, to show up the blood vessels. After the test, a nurse will put a pressure dressing onto the puncture site in your groin. You will need to stay lying down for at least an hour. The nurse will check the puncture site for bleeding before you are allowed to get up.
Your doctor will ask you to go back to the hospital when your test results have come through. This is bound to take a little time, even if only a week or so. You are likely to feel anxious during this time. At the hospital you will usually have a cancer specialist nurse who can answer your questions and help support you. It may also help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you are feeling. Or you may want to contact a cancer support group to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience.
If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use CancerChat, our online forum.
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