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You will usually get the biopsy| results within a week. If cancer cells are found in the larynx, your specialist may want you to have further tests to find out the size of the cancer and whether it has spread.
You may have some of the following tests:
There isn’t a specific blood test that can detect laryngeal cancer, but blood tests may be done to check your general health.
You may have a chest x-ray to check your general health and to see if the cancer has spread to the lungs, although this is rare.
A CT scan takes a series of x-rays, which build up a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. The scan takes 10-30 minutes and is painless. It uses a small amount of radiation, which is very unlikely to harm you and will not harm anyone you come into contact with. You will be asked not to eat or drink for at least four hours before the scan.
You may be given a drink or injection of a dye, which allows particular areas to be seen more clearly. This may make you feel hot all over for a few minutes. It’s important to let your doctor know if you are allergic to iodine or have asthma, because you could have a more serious reaction to the injection. You’ll probably be able to go home as soon as the scan is over.
Someone having a CT scan
View a large version of the image of someone having a CT scan|
This test uses magnetism to build up a detailed picture of areas of your body. The scanner is a powerful magnet so you may be asked to complete and sign a checklist to make sure it’s safe for you. The checklist asks about any metal implants you may have, for example a pacemaker, surgical clips, bone pins, etc. You should also tell your doctor if you’ve ever worked with metal or in the metal industry, as very tiny fragments of metal can sometimes lodge in the body. If you do have any metal in your body, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to have an MRI scan. In this situation another type of scan can be used.
Before the scan, you’ll be asked to remove any metal belongings, including jewellery. Some people are given an injection of dye into a vein in the arm, which doesn’t usually cause discomfort. This is called a contrast medium and can help the images from the scan to show up more clearly. During the test you’ll lie very still on a couch inside a long cylinder (tube) for about 30 minutes. It’s painless but can be slightly uncomfortable, and some people feel a bit claustrophobic. It’s also noisy, but you’ll be given earplugs or headphones. You can hear, and speak to, the person operating the scanner.
This is a combination of a CT scan, which takes a series of x-rays to build up a three-dimensional picture, and a positron emission tomography (PET) scan, which uses low-dose radiation to measure the activity of cells in different parts of the body. PET/CT scans give more detailed information about the part of the body being scanned. They are a new type of scan and you may have to travel to a specialist centre to have one.
You cannot eat for six hours before the scan, although you may be able to drink. A mildly radioactive substance is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. The radiation dose used is very small. The scan is done after at least an hour’s wait. It usually takes 30-90 minutes. You should be able to go home after the scan.
Waiting for test results can be a difficult time and you may need support from one of our cancer support specialists| or from another organisation|.
Content last reviewed: 1 April 2011
Next planned review: 2013
For answers, support or just a chat, call the Macmillan Support Line free (Monday to Friday, 9am-8pm)
If you have any questions about cancer, need support or just want someone to talk to, ask Macmillan.
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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