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If your tests show that you have secondary cancer of the liver, and it was not previously known that you had a primary cancer elsewhere in your body, your doctor may need to do some further tests. These will be done to try to find out where the primary cancer is.
All medical tests take time and may be uncomfortable, so your doctor will only arrange the tests that are most likely to determine your future treatment. If it’s necessary to do such tests, your doctor will discuss them with you first.
Some cancers produce abnormal levels of proteins that can be detected by simple blood tests. These proteins are called tumour markers. They can help doctors find out where the primary cancer is.
You may have a PET-CT scan if your doctors are considering surgery as a treatment.
This is a combination of a CT scan|, which takes a series of x-rays to build up a three-dimensional picture, and a PET (positron emission tomography) scan. A PET scan 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.You may have to travel to a specialist centre to have one.
You’ll be asked not to 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.
Content last reviewed: 1 January 2013
Next planned review: 2015
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© Macmillan Cancer Support 2013
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