CT scans use X-ray images to provide views of a person’s insides. CT scans don’t usually help diagnose uterine cancer. They can help doctors determine whether uterine cancer has returned or spread outside the uterus.

CT Scan machine used to stage cancers like uterine cancerShare on Pinterest
Miquel Llonch/Stocksy United

An estimated 66,200 people will receive uterine cancer diagnoses in the United States in 2023. Doctors can typically diagnose uterine cancer only after symptoms appear because there’s no screening test specifically for uterine cancer.

Doctors may request that you get medical imaging tests if you have uterine cancer symptoms. These tests can include ultrasounds, MRIs, PET, or CT scans. While doctors don’t usually use CT scans to diagnose uterine cancer or confirm the diagnosis of it, they may use CT scan results to determine whether the cancer has spread or returned.

Learn more about uterine cancer.

CT scans involve a collection of X-ray images from different angles. They create a more detailed visual image of the inside of the body than a single X-ray.

Doctors typically use this type of scan to help stage uterine cancer or to determine if it has returned following treatment.

As mentioned, doctors may use CT scans to determine whether uterine cancer has spread to other body areas, including the lymph nodes.

Some studies in a 2018 research review found that CT scans may help correctly detect more than 40% of node-positive cases. Also, studies in a 2010 review shared that CT scans were 92% accurate in detecting pelvic cancer recurrences.

A doctor will typically ask you to change into a gown and remove all metal jewelry before starting a CT scan. Healthcare professionals can help you lay flat on a scanning bed. The bed will pass in and out of the CT scanner, but unlike an MRI machine, the CT scanner won’t encase your whole body at once.

If your CT scan requires contrast before the scan begins, you’ll take it orally, or a doctor will inject it into your arm. When you receive the contrast injection, you may feel a warm sensation spread throughout your body and have a metallic taste in your mouth.

During the scan, you can talk with the technician. You’ll need to lie still. They may ask you to hold your breath or breathe in or out at various points in the scan. A CT scan usually takes around 20 minutes.

Fill out any requested paperwork in advance to prepare for a CT scan. Healthcare professionals may ask you to refrain from eating or drinking for several hours before your CT scan. They’ll ask you to wear comfortable clothing and remove piercings or other jewelry.

Symptoms of uterine cancer can include:

  • vaginal bleeding after menopause
  • unusually prolonged bleeding during your period or bleeding between periods
  • change in vaginal discharge
  • pelvic pain or pain in the lower abdomen and back
  • pain during sexual intercourse

Many factors can influence an individual’s outlook if they have uterine cancer. Some of these include:

  • an individual’s age and general health
  • the specific type of cancer cells involved
  • whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • how treatment works for a person

The American Cancer Society reports that the 5-year survival rate for endometrial cancer when combining all the stages is 84%. It’s important to keep in mind that endometrial uterine cancer is the most common type of uterine cancer. But it’s just one type of uterine cancer, and every individual’s experience with cancer is unique.

How long will it take to get my CT scan results?

CT scan results aren’t typically available immediately. A radiologist will review the scan results, and your doctor will provide a written report. It can take several days or even a few weeks for this to happen.

What types of scans might my doctor recommend to diagnose uterine cancer?

Doctors may use a transvaginal ultrasound or endometrial biopsy to help diagnose uterine cancer. If you receive a cancer diagnosis, a CT scan, MRI, or PET scan may help determine the stage of the cancer – if it has spread to other parts of the body.

Is a CT scan harmful to my body?

You’ll experience exposure to a small amount of radiation during a CT scan. There’s a small chance this could increase your chance of cancer in the future, and doctors will consider this risk when deciding whether to recommend a CT scan.

There’s also a small chance that you’ll have a reaction to a contrast dye if you receive one during your scan.

Doctors may use CT scans to stage uterine cancer and to help determine if uterine cancer has returned after treatment.

It’s important to let your doctor know if you have symptoms of uterine cancer, like bleeding between periods. Early detection of uterine cancer can improve the diagnosis.