Further tests for bladder cancer
A CT or MRI scan can sometimes show if and how far the bladder cancer has spread, but you might also need further imaging tests such as a radioisotope bone scan, x-rays or an FDG-PET scan.
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A radioisotope scan may be done to see whether the cancer has spread to the bones. It may also be called a whole-body bone scan (WBBS) or simply a bone scan.
A tiny amount of radioactive dye is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. The dye collects in areas of abnormal bone growth. You will need to wait several hours before having the scan. This gives the bones time to absorb the dye. The scanner will measure the radioactivity levels and record them on x-ray film.
You may need x-rays if a particular area looks abnormal in other tests or is causing symptoms. A chest x-ray may be taken to check the health of your lungs and look for signs the cancer has spread. This is sometimes done with the CT scanner.
A PET (positron emission tomography) scan detects radiation from a low-level radioactive solution that is injected into the body. In an FDG-PET, the solution used is called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG).
An FDG-PET scan can be used to find cancer that has spread to lymph nodes or other sites that may not be picked up on a CT scan. Medicare does not currently cover the cost of an FDG-PET scan for bladder cancer, so check with your doctor what you will have to pay. PET scans are usually available only in major hospitals, so you may need to travel to have one.
Before an FDG-PET scan, a small amount of FDG is injected into a vein. You will be asked to sit quietly for 30–90 minutes while the solution moves through your body. Your body is then scanned. Areas of cancer usually absorb more of the FDG, so they will be highlighted on the scan. It will take several hours to prepare for and have the scan.
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Prof Dickon Hayne, UWA Medical School, The University of Western Australia, and Head, Urology, South Metropolitan Health Service, WA; BEAT Bladder Cancer Australia; Dr Anne Capp, Senior Staff Specialist, Radiation Oncology, Calvary Mater Newcastle, NSW; Marc Diocera, Genitourinary Nurse Consultant, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Dr Peter Heathcote, Senior Urologist, Princess Alexandra Hospital, and Adjunct Professor, Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre, QLD; Melissa Le Mesurier, Consumer; Dr James Lynam, Medical Oncologist Staff Specialist, Calvary Mater Newcastle and The University of Newcastle, NSW; John McDonald, Consumer; Michael Twycross, Consumer; Rosemary Watson, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria.
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