Diagnosis and treatment

Blood tests and other investigations


Cancer, and the effects of treatment, are monitored using a variety of tests and investigations.

The information below summarises some tests that you may experience, but you also undergo others. Remember, if you have any questions or concerns about any tests, don’t hesitate to ask your healthcare team – they are there to help and support you.

Blood tests1

When you take treatment, your doctor may need to carry out blood tests to check your overall health and make sure your organs are functioning properly.

Cardiac monitoring2

Sometimes treatments can affect how your heart works. If you are on one of these treatments, your healthcare team will need to monitor you. They may give you a portable heart monitor that either records your heart rate throughout the day, or that you turn on yourself if you notice any changes. Your healthcare team may also admit you to hospital for monitoring if they feel it is necessary.

Side effect monitoring3

Your healthcare team will regularly ask you if you’ve noticed any side effects whilst taking your treatment. They may also run some blood tests, or order a CT or MRI scan, to confirm the side effect.

Drug interaction monitoring4

A lot of treatments can be affected by, and/or have an effect on, other drugs that you may be taking. Your healthcare team will carefully monitor you to see if this occurs by running blood tests.

  1. Cancer Research UK. Blood tests. Available at: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/tests/blood-tests. Last accessed: August 2019.
  2. Macmillan. Tests to check your heart. Available at: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/audience/teens-and-young-adults/test-and-scans/heart-tests.html. Last accessed: August 2019.
  3. Cancer.Net. Side effects of chemotherapy. Available at: https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/how-cancer-treated/chemotherapy/side-effects-chemotherapy. Last accessed: August 2019.
  4. Scripture D & Figg WD. Nature Rev Cancer; 6: 546–558.