What to expect
Prior to your appointment in Sarcoma Clinic you may have already had some investigations organised. These may have been organised by your General Practitioner or by another Consultant or by one of the Sarcoma Team. You may be contacted prior to your referral by one of our Specialist Nurses or Physiotherapists to advise you that we have organised additional investigations in order to try to improve the quality of the service that you receive.
A brief outline of the investigations that may be undertaken is given below. [LINK TO RELEVANT INVESTIGATIONS ON NHS CHOICES WEBSITE]
X-ray (radiograph). It is common to undergo a plain x-ray of the area affected.
Ultrasound: An ultrasound scan is a painless test that uses sound waves to create the images of the structures inside your body. It is commonly done for lumps and provides some information about the lumps. It involves no radiation.
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan. An MRI scan is a type of scan that uses strong magnetic fields and radiowaves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. The patient lies inside a large tube and the scan can take up to between 15 and 90 minutes depending on the complexity. Sometimes an injection is given at the time of the scan to provide Radiologist with further information.
This scanner can be noisy and in some cases people can feel claustrophobic.
CT (computerised tomography) scan: A CT scanner consists of a small tube that rotates around your body, collecting high-resolution x-rays, that will then create an virtual image via a computer. It can produce images of structures inside the body such as internal organs, blood vessels and bones. Sometimes an injection of contrast is given to further detail any potential tumour.
If you are pregnant, then you should make the Radiographer aware prior to having a CT scan.
Biopsy: A biopsy is a procedure that involves taking a small sample of tissue to assess and enable it to examine it under the microscope. Biopsies are usually carried out under ultrasound guidance (see above). The results of the biopsy can take between 10 days and three weeks depending on complexity you will be brought back to clinic to discuss the results of your biopsy.
PET CT scan (positron emission tomography-computed tomography). PET CT scans are used to produce detailed 3D virtual images of the body. This scan starts with a radioactive substance being injected into body. Approximately an hour later, a scan will be undertaken. The scan can show unrecognised sites of disease and is used to guide treatment planning. PET-CTs are not routinely used in sarcoma but are used for very specific indications.
Whole-Body MRI scan. In some cases in terms of specific tumours a whole body MRI scan will be used to assess for unrecognised sites of disease. This is currently only available in Nottingham at present and if one of these is recommended, then you will need to travel to Nottingham for this.