Further tests for nasal and sinus cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Further tests for nasal and sinus cancer

Men and women discussing nasal and sinus cancer

This page tells you about tests you may have if your doctor has found you have a cancer of the nasal cavity or paranasal sinuses. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Further tests for nasal and sinus cancer

If your tests show you have cancer, you will have further tests to check whether the cancer has spread from where it started. This helps your doctor to decide on the treatment you need.

Scans

You may have a CT scan, MRI scan or PET scan. These can give doctors a detailed picture of your cancer and whether it has spread. You may need an injection of dye (contrast medium) to help show up the body tissues more clearly.

After the tests

You are likely to feel very anxious while you are waiting for your test results. It may help to talk to your 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.
 

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the diagnosing nasal cancer section.

 

 

Why you might have more tests

Further tests will help your doctor to decide on the treatment you need. If your tests show you have cancer, your doctor needs to check whether it has spread from where it started. The lymph nodes in the neck are often the first place this type of cancer spreads to. Tissue fluid circulates around the body organs, drains into lymph vessels and is carried to the lymph nodes. If any cancer cells have broken away, they will be carried to the lymph nodes in tissue fluid.

 

CT scan

This is a computerised scan using X-rays. You may have a CT scan of your head and neck, your chest or abdomen. The head and neck CT will show the size of the cancer and any enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. You may need an injection of dye (contrast medium) to help show up the body tissues more clearly. A chest and abdominal CT may show other signs of cancer spread. 

There is more information about having a CT scan in the about cancer tests section.

 

MRI scan

You may have an MRI scan. This uses magnetism to build up a picture. Soft tissue shows up more clearly on this scan than on a CT scan. Again, an injection of dye may help the tissues to show up clearly. You usually cannot have an MRI scan if you have metal inside your body (for example, a pacemaker). If you have had a hip or knee replacement, you may still be able to have an MRI as long as they are not part of the area being scanned. Otherwise they could affect the quality of the image. 

There is more information about having an MRI Scan in the section about cancer tests.

 

PET scan

PET scans can show up areas of active disease. They are sometimes used to check to see if cancer has come back after treatment. You may also have a scan after treatment to make sure that there is no active cancer surviving in any scar tissue. It can be very difficult for doctors to tell scar tissue from remaining cancer after treatment. 

There is more information about having a PET scan in the section about cancer tests.

 

After the tests

You are likely to feel very anxious while you are waiting for your test results. They may take a little time, although sometimes they only take a week or so. When your test results have come through, your specialist will ask you to go back to the hospital to discuss them. And decide on the best course of treatment for you. 

While you are waiting for results it may help to talk to your 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. Ask your cancer nurse, or look in our cancer organisations section, for an organisation that can give you information about support groups or counselling services near you.

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Updated: 2 July 2014