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Uterine Sarcoma: Tests After Diagnosis

What tests might I have after being diagnosed?

After a diagnosis of uterine sarcoma, you will likely need more 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, talk with your healthcare team.

Illustration of transvaginal ultrasound procedure
Click Image to Enlarge

The tests you may have include: 

  • Transvaginal ultrasound

  • MRI

  • CT scan

  • Chest X-ray

  • PET scan

  • Blood tests

Transvaginal ultrasound

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 put in the vagina. The test creates pictures of the uterus and nearby tissues. These images help your doctor see if there are any growths or tumors inside your uterus or in the muscle wall of your uterus. This test is also used to look at the ovaries to see if they are enlarged or might have cancer in them. It's often used to diagnose uterine cancer. But after diagnosis, it may be done to see how much cancer there is and where it is.

To have this test done, you lie on your back on a table. A thin wand-like probe is put into your vagina. It’s covered with a plastic sleeve and lubricated. The probe is gently moved around, and sound waves echo off the organs. You may feel some pressure or mild discomfort, but this test should not be painful. Sometimes a thin catheter is used to put saltwater into the uterus. This helps fill the uterus to create clearer images of the lining of the uterus (endometrium). The images are used to look for tumors and measure the thickness of the lining.

MRI

This test uses large magnets, radio waves, and a computer to make detailed images of the uterus and other tissues in the pelvis. An MRI can be used to see if cancer has spread outside of your uterus. MRI scans are very useful for looking at the brain and spinal cord.

For this test, you lie still on a table as it passes through a long, tube-like scanner that contains the magnet. 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-D picture of the inside of your body. You may need more than 1 set of images. Each pass may take 2 to 15 minutes. The whole procedure may take 1 hour or more. You may be injected with a dye before the MRI. The dye helps the doctors get a clearer view of what’s happening inside your body. MRI is painless. But it can be loud. You can ask for earplugs before the scan. If you are claustrophobic, you may be given a sedative before having this test.

CT scan

This test helps your doctor see if the 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 ring-shaped 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 1 or more times during the scan. You may need to drink an X-ray dye (contrast medium). Or you may be given the dye by an IV (intravenous) injection. The dye lets your doctor see lymph nodes and other tissues better. It will slowly pass through your system and exit through your bowel movements or in your urine. Some people have a brief warm feeling (flushing) just after the injection. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had a reaction to X-ray dye in the past, such as hives or trouble breathing. Also tell him or her right away if you have these reactions during the CT scan.

Chest X-ray

A chest X-ray uses a small amount of radiation to create an image of tissues inside your chest. This test can show if the cancer has spread to your lungs. The test takes only a few minutes and won't cause any pain.

PET scan

A PET scan looks for cancer throughout your whole body.

For this test, you either swallow or are injected with a mildly radioactive 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 doesn't hurt. Some people are sensitive to the glucose used, and may have nausea, a headache, or vomiting. Some newer machines can do PET and CT scans at the same time. Then the active areas (hot spots) that show up on the PET scan can be compared to the more detailed images of the CT scan.

Blood tests

Blood tests will be done many times throughout your diagnosis and treatment. Some blood tests help your doctor decide if you're healthy enough for surgery. Other blood tests show how well your liver, kidneys, and other organs are working. 

Working with your healthcare provider 

Your healthcare provider will talk with you about which tests you’ll need and why. Make sure to get ready for the tests as instructed. Ask questions and talk about any concerns you have. 

Online Medical Reviewer: Howard Goodman MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Kimberly Stump-Sutliff RN MSN AOCNS
Online Medical Reviewer: Lu Cunningham RN BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2020
© 2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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