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Cervical Cancer

Further tests for cervical cancer

When women are diagnosed with cervical cancer their doctor usually does some further tests which may include any of the following;

  • blood tests,
  • a chest x-ray (to check that lungs and heart are healthy),
  • an intravenous urogram (a special type of x-ray),
  • an EUA (an examination under anaesthetic of the womb, vagina, rectum and bladder),
  • a pelvic ultrasound,
  • an MRI scan,
  • a CT scan and
  • a PET/CT scan.

These tests provide doctors with more detailed information about the size and position of the cancer and whether it has spread to other organs. Test results are usually given to patients at a later date at an outpatient appointment. Detailed descriptions of these examinations are available on Macmillan Cancer Support’s website.

Many women who had further tests for cervical cancer did not find them difficult or uncomfortable apart from a few women who found the MRI scan claustrophobic. Having a relative sitting with them in the room or using breathing techniques helped these women to cope better with their feelings of claustrophobia during their scan.

One woman describes her experience of the MRI scan. Another, explains what it was like having a CT scan. A third, describes her experience of an intravenous urogram. One woman explains how she felt very alone when she had her further tests.

 

As an OT she suspected she might have MND. She describes the diagnostic tests, including an EMG,...

As an OT she suspected she might have MND. She describes the diagnostic tests, including an EMG,...

Age at interview: 28
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 27
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Well basically you have to, I mean obviously you get undressed and then you have to insert a Tampax so all the images are, I don't know it somehow affects the images, makes them better. And then you basically lie on a sort of padded bed like you would do in a normal doctor's surgery and you're given an injection with a dye in it so it sort of highlights your veins and arteries and different bits of you. 

And then you're basically slid into this sort of tunnel. And it's quite close, it's probably about 3 inches from your face and they do say just, "You might feel claustrophobic and it's actually very noisy," so you're warned that that's going to happen. And you're asked to sort of take breaths in and breaths out and it is very noisy. I mean it's lots of different, it's all the radio waves sort of bouncing off your body to create this 3D image. 

Some of them sound like a pneumatic drill outside which is really, really noisy and for a moment I did start to get panicked and I thought 'oh my God I just want to get out of here'. But I think as soon as you start thinking of your breathing then you just get control again. Because it's very easy to get yourself panicked. 

And then I was slid out again and you have a board on top of you which somehow helps the images so she moved that because I was having my pelvis and my stomach done. And so she moved that and then I was slid back in and then the same procedure. So all in all it probably took about 40 minutes or something. And it was fine actually so that was that.

 

She describes her CT scan.

She describes her CT scan.

Age at interview: 31
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 30
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I was a bit scared because I didn't know what was a CT scan. But I just had to drink a lot of water and they gave me an injection with a liquid that travels from, in your body and leaves a colour in your body. And its funny because as soon as you get this injected in your body I felt a very strange taste in my mouth and very hot, it was like whiskey taste, something like that. And I thought 'oh my God, what's this' and I felt really, really hot but that's all. And after they just asked me to put my arms under my head and I went through the machine, its like a disc, the machine's like a disc, I just went through three times. I had to undress, put on a hospital gown and that's it.
 

She describes her experience of an intravenous urogram (IVP).

She describes her experience of an intravenous urogram (IVP).

Age at interview: 39
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 31
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I had the intravenous urogram which is where they inject dye so they can see that the kidney function is okay and make sure there's no spread from the tumour into the kidneys. Mostly what they're looking for in all these tests are spread from the tumour, to make sure there's no secondary growth. Again IVP, a bit uncomfortable, hot flushy feeling from the dye that they inject and then having to lie still for xrays, uncomfortable but again bearable, not too unpleasant.
 

She explains that having further tests made her feel very alone.

She explains that having further tests made her feel very alone.

Age at interview: 23
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 23
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Yes I had to have blood tests, a chest xray and a CAT scan, a CT scan. And I think that was the day when I felt the most alone as is this is my body and I've got this in my body and no one else can help me. And I felt very alone that day because I had to go down to the xray department, the CT scan and the lady said to me "What are you having the xray for?" And I just assumed it would say on the folder that I was taking down and I said "I have cervical cancer," and she just looked at me like you're too young to have that kind of thing and you know. 

So yeah I had the xray and then had to go and have the CT scan, the CAT scan. Which I didn't really know what it was and I just assumed that it would be like, well it is like an xray but it's you know they have to put an IV in so that it shows up, I think it's everything, it's a more detailed picture of your body isn't it, so basically it was an abdominal CAT scan. 

But yeah they had to put a small IV in my arm and then I had to lay down in this kind of tube while it rolled back and forth to take pictures of me inside. I had to breath in and breath out. And it was painless, it was fine but it did make me feel very lonely. Oh you've got cancer, all that kind of thing. Yeah right but I don't want to talk about it, don't ask me that question, it was quite yeah.
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Last reviewed July 2017.

Last updated July 2017.

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