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Old 08-15-2007, 08:36 AM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: charleston sc usa
Posts: 3
creekgirl SC HB User
Do PET scans show all the cancer?

Hello All......

I have been lurking for the past few days & finally decided to post.

I found out I had lung cancer when I suffered massive pulmonary embolisms in my left leg from groin to ankle (there were actually 2 emboli & clots travelled to my lungs also). I had gone to the ER on June 24 & they took X-Rays of my chest & also did an CT, EKG & MRI. I was put in the hospital for the next 4 days & given heprin shots and coudamin. They also did breathing tests on me. Then I was home for three days. My leg swelled up from knee to toes so I was back in the hospital for a week while they tried to get the correct dosage of bloodthinning. When I went home I had to give myself twice daily shots of Lovenox & was still taking coumadin. Since then I've had blood work done regularily & they keep adjusting the dosages almost weekly.

I had a PET scan done & it showed a mass 3.4 cm in my upper lobe of my right lung & lymph node involvment. It did not show anything in my left lung....nothing lit up there.

After that I was sent to a pulmonary doctor & had a bronchoposcopy done. He did biosopy of two lymph nodes & they showed cancer.

After that I was referred to an oncologist who classed the cancer at 111a & said that they felt the lung mass could be operated on ...after I had radiation (with hopes that it would shrink) & chemo treatments.

The oncologist sent me to a thorasic surgeon who felt that I was a good candidate for surgery as other than these two problems (clots & lung) I am very healthy....LOL! What the thorasic surgeon has to be sure of is that my left lung will be enough to support me if they operate on my right. They feel that my breathing is okay.

Now to the crux of the matter. Even tho the PET did NOT show anything lighting up in my left lung.... on some other test (& I don't know which one it was now) they see a THING (that is what we are calling it at this time). The oncologist & the thorasic surgeon do not think it is anything to be concerned about but the radiation doctor they sent me to said it could be. If it is they will not be able to do surgery on the right lung & the only things that could be done would be the radiation & chemo treatments.

Both my oncologist & thorasic surgeon are out of town this week so I will not hear anything from them until after next Monday which is a long time to worry about this. They do plan to do another scope to check out the THING but first will have to take me off the coudamin for a few days.

So my question is ........if it is cancer in left lung shouldn't it show up on the PET scan?

Any info from anyone who has had similiar results from a PET scan would be appreciated.

I also would like to say that I am very glad that this message board is here to help support & answer questions that people have concerning lung cancer. Just reading about it online really isn't enough. Thank you all.


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Old 08-15-2007, 10:44 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Danville, VA
Posts: 131
DaveInVA HB UserDaveInVA HB User
Re: Do PET scans show all the cancer?

Sorry that you are having to suffer through this. The PET scan works by showing areas of increased metabolism after you are given something the cancer is likely to "feed" on more than normal cells. It works pretty good for most cancers that have a high metabolism. Your scan apparently didn't "light up" anywhere else so there is likely no cancer at any detectable level elsewhere. There is a chance there is cancer present elsewhere but just not at a level high enough to yet be detected. After surgery they will probably also keep tabs of certain chemical markers to see if the cancer is still there or starting to grow somewhere again. Many times these markers will show the cancer starting before it can be detected via scans. The "thing" in your other lung could be lots of things such as scar tissue or other benign stuff. In my case I had 7.7 cm carcinoid tumor in my right lung and it has a low metabolism and didn't show up at all on the PET scan but did show up via chemical markers and CT scan.


Old 08-15-2007, 04:39 PM   #3
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: charleston sc usa
Posts: 3
creekgirl SC HB User
Re: Do PET scans show all the cancer?


Thank you so much for replying to my post. I ******d 'carcinoid' & found out that it is a slow growing cancer. Is that part of the reason that they were able to remove it even tho it was so big ? That must have been a really happy day for you when you found out that it was a cancer that they could deal with.

I had read somewhere that any mass over 3 cm wasn't generally considered for surgical removal....only radiation & chemo.

When the oncologist told me that they were considering removing it I was very surprised.

I sure am hoping that when they do the biopsy on the THING in the left lung that it won't be anything that would interfer with an operation on the right lung.

Your reply has given me hope. Thank you so much..... Creekgirl

Old 08-15-2007, 05:12 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Danville, VA
Posts: 131
DaveInVA HB UserDaveInVA HB User
Re: Do PET scans show all the cancer?

The main reason they felt surgery was the way to go was because the tumor had clean margins and seemed contained.They removed my middle right lobe. After surgery they told me they almost took the entire lung because the tumor was so close to the broncial terminus that there was little tissue to work with to reconnect the remaining 2 lobes. They said another couple of months and I would have lost the entire lung for sure. So far the cancer is staying away. I hope they can get it all in your surgery...


Old 08-30-2007, 07:05 PM   #5
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: charleston sc usa
Posts: 3
creekgirl SC HB User
Re: Do PET scans show all the cancer?

Hello Dave.....

I appreciate that you replied to my postings. I have never known anyone who had cancer (other than my mother & she never told me about it until a few months before she died. We lived a thousand miles apart & she kept her illness from me until near the end.)

At times I feel very alone in this illness but coming to the message boards is a help to me. My husband went through this with his first wife (she had lung cancer also) & he doesn't really want to talk about it much so we basically pretend that it isn't happening to me. All he says is "think positive".

It has been awhile since I last posted. We have been busy going to doctor appointments, etc. A couple of the appointments were to check on how well I am doing on the coumadin. My numers keep going up so the docs are happy about that.

My oncology cardiologist got back from his vacation & at my appointment he informed me that the type cancer I have is adenocarcinoma. He also said that it is well differentiated (altho he didn't explain what that meant & I didn't think to ask).

The radialogy doctor & the thorasic surgeon talked with each other & decided that the THING in my left lung was of no consequence so I could have surgery if the tumor can be shrunk by radiation & chemo.

They have done the mapping & are in the process of checking a CT scan that was done in June with one that they did last week....I suppose to find out how much larger the tumor has gotten.

They will start me on a combo of carboplatin & taxol. I don't know much about either of them. The radiation will be done for 7 weeks. But they will do a mediastinoscopy after the 5th week. (Hopefully that procedure won't be any worse than the bronchopscopy was). I do not know what the results of that test will mean as far as any future treatments.

I try to remember what they tell me but by the time I get home I've either confused info or totally forgotten it. It's overwhelming at times.

Sorry this is so long & rambling. I just needed to talk tonight.

Regards, Creekgirl

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