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Further tests for womb cancer

Women discussing womb cancer

This page tells you about tests you may have after you have been diagnosed with womb cancer. You can find the following information

 

A quick guide to what's on this page

Further tests for womb cancer

If your earlier tests show you have womb cancer, your specialist will suggest more tests to find the position of the cancer and how big it is. The tests will also show if the cancer has spread to surrounding body tissues or to more distant parts of the body. The results will help your doctor decide on the best possible treatment for you. These further tests may include X-rays, blood tests, scans and an internal examination under general anaesthetic. This allows your doctor to examine you thoroughly and take biopsies if necessary.

After the tests

Your doctor will ask you to go back to the hospital when your test results have come through. After the first set of tests you may need further scans such as another CT scan or MRI scan. This is to check possible cancer spread in more detail.

Many people feel anxious waiting for the results. It may 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.

 

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

 

 

Why you need more tests

If your earlier tests show you have womb cancer, you will need to have more tests to find the position of the cancer and how big it is. The tests will also show if the cancer has spread to surrounding body tissues or to more distant parts of the body. This helps your doctor to stage your cancer. Staging means finding out how far the cancer has grown, and whether it has spread. The results will help to decide on the best possible treatment for you.

 

Chest X-ray

Your doctor may want you to have a chest X-ray to check

 

CT and MRI scans

Your doctor may suggest you have a CT scan or MRI scan, or both. This is to see if your cancer has grown into the neck of the womb (your cervix) or into the muscle wall of the womb and if so, how far. We have detailed information about having a CT scan and having an MRI scan.

 

Internal examination under anaesthetic

This procedure is sometimes called an EUA. It is done under a general anaesthetic. This means your specialist (gynaecologist) can examine you physically, look for signs of cancer spread and take samples of tissue (biopsies) if necessary. The examination includes checking

  • The size of your womb, and whether it moves as it should
  • Your cervix and vagina
  • Inside your bladder
  • Inside your rectum

To check inside your bladder the doctor uses a cystoscope. This is a thin tube with a light attached, which can check for signs of cancer in the bladder. To check inside your back passage (rectum), the doctor can use a gloved finger to feel for any growths. Or they can use an instrument called a proctoscope to examine the rectal wall more closely. If the doctor sees any abnormal areas during these tests, they may take a biopsy. They then send this sample to the lab for examination under a microscope.

 

Test to show the kidneys and bladder

An intravenous urogram (IVU) shows up the kidneys, bladder and the tubes that connect them. This test may also be called a pyelogram (IVP). An IVU may show up areas of cancer spread - or rule them out. Doctors do not use this test as much as they used to. You are now more likely to have a CT or MRI scan. We have more information about having an IVU or IVP.

 

PET scan

A PET scan can show how active cells are. Cells that are very active use a lot of energy and this can show up on a PET scan. PET scans are not routinely used for diagnosing womb cancer. Currently, doctors are more likely to ask for a PET scan to try to find out whether an abnormal area is scar tissue or active cancer cells. This can be particularly useful for showing if cancer has come back (recurrence) in areas where there is past scarring from surgery or radiotherapy. We have more information about having a PET scan.

Instead of a PET scan, you may have a PET-CT scan. This is a combination of a PET scan and a CT scan. We have detailed information about having a PET-CT scan

 

Further blood tests

Your doctor will arrange routine blood tests to check your general health. Blood tests can also check whether your kidneys and liver are working properly.

 

After the tests

Your doctor will ask you to go back to the hospital when your test results have come through. After the first set of tests you may need further scans such as another CT or MRI scan. This is to check for possible cancer spread in more detail. The test results may take a little time, even if only a week or so. 

Many people feel very anxious during this time. While you are waiting for the results it may 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. Look at our list of general cancer organisations for organisations that can help put you in touch with a support group.

Our womb cancer organisations page has details of people who can help and support you. If you want to find people to share experiences with online, you could use Cancer Chat, our online forum. 

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Updated: 17 September 2014