Further tests after diagnosis

If the biopsy results show there are breast cancer cells, you may need more tests before you can start your treatment. You may have blood taken to check your general health and to see how well your kidneys and liver are working. You may have an x-ray of your chest to check your lungs and heart.

Some men may have other tests to check if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

Bone scan

This test shows up abnormal areas of bone. You have a small amount of radioactive substance injected into a vein. You will need to wait for two to three hours between having the injection and the scan. The scan may take an hour. Abnormal bone absorbs more radioactivity than normal bone and shows up on the scan pictures.

The amount of radioactive substance used is small. But you will be advised not to have close contact with pregnant women, babies and young children for up to 24 hours after the scan. After this, your body will have got rid of the radioactivity in your urine. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to phone the scanning department before the test for advice.

If you are travelling through an airport in the days following your scan, you could take your appointment letter with you. Some airport scanners may detect the small amounts of radiation in your body.

CT scan

A CT (computerised tomography) scan uses x-rays to build a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body. You may be given either a drink or injection of dye. This is to make certain areas of the body show up more clearly. We have more detailed information about having a CT scan.

MRI scan

This scan uses magnetism to build up a detailed picture of areas of your body. You may be given an injection of dye, into a vein, to improve the images from the scan. We have more detailed information about having an MRI scan.

Liver ultrasound

This scan is done to check the liver. The person doing the scan spreads a gel on to your tummy and moves a small handheld device, which produces sound waves, over the liver area. The sound waves are converted into a picture by a computer.

If you need support

If you are diagnosed with cancer, it can come as a shock, even if your doctors have prepared you for this possibility. There’s lots of support available. You can call the Macmillan Support Line free on 0808 808 00 00 (Mon–Fri, 9am–8pm). Or you can contact an organisation that may be able to help.

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