Tests to find out how well organs are working

Tests to find out how well organs are working

 If your child has cancer they may need some tests to find out how well their organs are working.

Audiology

Some cancer drugs can affect hearing. If your child is receiving these drugs, they may need baseline hearing tests (audiology) and regular testing during treatment.

This page is part of a whole section about childhood cancer.

Echocardiogram (ECHO)

Some chemotherapy drugs can affect heart function. If your child is having one of these drugs, the oncology team will ask for an echocardiogram to check heart function. This will test the strength and function of the heart by using an ultrasound machine.  The doctor or radiographer will put a clear jelly on your child's chest and then move a small round probe (transducer) around on their chest. This probe sends sound waves to the heart, and the returning sound waves create a picture of the heart.

Electrocardiogram (ECG)

An electrocardiogram measures the rhythm of the heart. Your child will have small stickers, called leads, on their chest and possibly on their arms and legs. The leads connect to a monitor that measures the heart rhythm. Some children need to use a portable device called a Holter monitor. This measures their heart rhythm over several hours or a day. The Holter monitor sits in a pouch that your child can wear.

Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)

Some drugs can affect kidney function. Your child's healthcare medical team will regularly check your child's kidney function during your child's treatment. The glomerular filtration rate (GFR) test looks at how well the kidneys are working.  A technician or nurse will put a special substance, called a tracer, into your child's vein. Follow-up tests show how quickly the tracer passes through the kidneys and out of the body.

Lung (pulmonary) function test

Lung function tests measure how well the lungs are working. The test measures how much air the lungs can hold and how well your child can push air out of their lungs. Your child will blow into a plastic mouthpiece connected to a machine. The machine measures the amount of air your child breathes in, and the force of the air they breathe in and out. Your child will probably need to repeat the test a few times to get an accurate reading.

Creatinine clearance

A creatinine clearance test is a way to measure how well the kidneys are working. Creatinine is a protein that is in blood and wee (urine). The amounts of creatinine in both the blood and wee show how well the kidneys are functioning. You will collect your child's wee in a container for 12 to 24 hours. You will need to collect the wee every time your child goes to the bathroom. The amount of wee you collect needs to be accurate. Staff at the laboratory will also test creatinine levels in your child's blood.

Urinalysis

A urinalysis tests the wee (urine) to see if it contains things that should not be there.  Your child will need to do a small amount of wee into a cup. This will go to the laboratory for testing. Staff at the laboratory will count the number of white and red blood cells and test for protein, bacteria, and sugar in the wee.

All the pages in the childhood cancer section of this website have been written by health professionals who work in the field of paediatric oncology. They have been reviewed by the members of the National Child Cancer Network (NZ). Medical information is authorised by the clinical leader of the National Child Cancer Network.

This page last reviewed 26 October 2017.
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