Uterine Sarcoma: Tests After Diagnosis
What tests might I have after being diagnosed?
After a diagnosis of uterine sarcoma, you will likely have other tests. These tests help your healthcare providers learn more about the cancer. They can help show if the cancer has grown into nearby areas or spread to other parts of your body. The test results help your healthcare providers decide the best ways to treat the cancer. If you have any questions about these or other tests, be sure to talk with your healthcare team.
The tests you’ll have may include:
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
Computed tomography (CT) scan
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
An ultrasound test uses sound waves to create images on a computer screen. It’s done with a small wand called a transducer that’s placed in the vagina. The test creates pictures of the uterus and measures the thickness of the lining of the uterus (endometrium). These images help your doctor to see if there are any growths or tumors inside your uterus or in the muscle wall of your uterus. To have this test done, you lie on your back on a table. Your doctor inserts a thin probe into your vagina. It’s covered with a plastic sleeve and lubricated. The doctor moves the probe around, and sound waves echo off the organs. You may feel some pressure or mild discomfort, but this test should not be painful. Your doctor may use a catheter to put salt water into the uterus. This helps fill the uterus to create a clearer image. The images help your doctor see if there are tumors.
This test uses large magnets and a computer to make detailed images of tissues in the breast. An MRI is used to see if cancer has spread outside of your uterus. For this test, you lie still on a table as it passes through a tube-like scanner. Then the scanner directs a beam of radio waves at the area being examined. A computer uses the data from the radio waves to create a 3-dimensional picture of the inside of your body. You may need more than 1 set of images. Each pass may take 2 to 15 minutes, so that the whole experience may take an hour or more. You may be injected with a dye before getting this scan to help the doctors get an even clearer view of what’s happening inside your body. This test is painless and noninvasive. Ask for earplugs if they aren’t offered because there is a loud thumping noise during the scan. If you are claustrophobic, you may be given a sedative before having this test.
This test helps your doctor see if cancer has spread to other parts of your body. A CT scan uses a series of X-rays and a computer to create detailed images of the inside of the body. During the test, you lie still on a table as it slowly slides through the center of the CT scanner. The scanner directs a beam of X-rays at your body. A CT scan is painless. You may be asked to briefly hold your breath one or more times during the scan. You may need to drink a contrast medium or get it by an intravenous (IV) injection. The dye allows your doctor to better see lymph nodes and other tissues. It will gradually pass through your system and exit through your bowel movements. Some people have a temporary warm feeling (flushing) just after the injection. Tell your doctor if you have ever had a reaction to contrast material in the past, such as hives or trouble breathing. Tell your doctor if you have these reactions during the test.
A chest X-ray uses a small amount of radiation to create an image of tissues inside your body. This test can show if cancer has spread to the lungs. The test takes only a few minutes and won't cause any pain.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
A PET scan can look at your entire body. For this test, you either swallow or are injected with a mildly radioactive substance. This is usually a form of sugar (glucose). The PET scan will show where in your body the glucose is being used the most. This helps find active cells that are dividing quickly, such as cancer cells. You’ll lie still on a table that is pushed into the PET scanner. It will rotate around you and take pictures. Other than the injection, a PET scan is painless. Some people are sensitive to the substance, and may have nausea, a headache, or vomiting. Some newer machines can do PET and CT scans at the same time. Then areas that show up on the PET scan can be compared to the more detailed image of the CT scan.
Blood tests may be done several times throughout your diagnosis and treatment. Some blood tests help your doctor decide if you're healthy enough for surgery. Other blood tests help your doctor learn if cancer has spread or if treatment is working. For example, CA-125 is a protein that’s released by some types of cancer of the reproductive organs.
Working with your healthcare provider
Your healthcare provider will talk with you about which tests you’ll have. Make sure to prepare for the tests as instructed. Ask questions and talk about any concerns you have.