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Old 05-14-2008, 02:59 PM   #1
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What is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

Hello,

I am new here .... my brother has been experiencing some strange problems and symptoms, and I have some questions. My brother started having right shoulder pain about 9 weeks ago. His doctor has been treating him for a torn rotator cuff.

Last week, the doctor decided to do an MRI. After it was read by the radiologist, they immediately scheduled him for a CT scan of the shoulder and a PET scan. The tech told my brother to stay in the waiting area so the radiologist could speak with him. After a brief wait, the radiologist suggested performing a CT scan of the chest because there were some "hot spots" on the scans: a large one in the right shoulder, a smaller one in the left shoulder, a few on the 2nd rib on the left side, some in the lymph nodes and in the lungs. The radiologist kept asking if my brother was experiencing a cough, or shortness of breath, chest pains. My brother denied having any problems except for the severe pain in is shoulder.

Once all the scans were complete, my brother was instructed to return to his doctor's office. There, nothing was really said except they were scheduling appointments with a pulmonologist and an orthopaedic specialist.

My brother is 48 years old and the picture of health. We are confused and concerned, especially since so many possible things that could be causing the pain have been ruled out, ie, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, torn rotator cuff, infection, fracture, etc.

Can anyone here tell me exactly what is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

Thank you very much!

 
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:59 PM   #2
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Re: What is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

Hot spots are areas of the PET scan that show illumination from the glucose which is given to the patient. Glucose is sugar which is metabolized by the cells in the body, many types of cancer cells metabolize sugar at a much higher rate than normal cells. This activity can be seen on a PET scan as brighter illuminated areas or what is referred to as "hot spots" which show up in brighter contrast than the rest of the scan which determines the locations of possible malignancies.

 
Old 05-14-2008, 05:37 PM   #3
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Re: What is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

Thank you for answering my question.

After reading your answer, I was encouraged to see you indicated that the glucose would illuminate areas of possible malignancies, and the hot spots are not exactly "true" indicators of cancer.

Of course, we will not know the exact answer to THAT question and concern until after my brother visits with the specialists next week.

Once again, I appreciate your time reading and answering my question.

 
Old 05-14-2008, 07:25 PM   #4
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Re: What is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

My last response is not exactly fair -- yes, I appreciate the answer, but I do believe that my insincere optimism is unfair.

Since we are all anonymous here, it feels much safer to express my true feelings and thoughts. The past week has been surreal. It feels like we are trapped in a nightmare. Yes, both my brothers and I realize our own fate with potential cancer, it has robbed us of too many of our family. Yet, we still hold on to the hope that we still have a little more time.

We lost Dad when he was just 66 to malignant peripheral nerve sheath sarcoma. The doctors told us not to worry -- it's not hereditary. Grandmother died at age 66 with pancreatic cancer. Granddaddy died at age 66 with liver cancer. Our mother and all her sisters required hysterectomies at young ages due to cancer. I also required a hysterectomy at a young age, thankfully before it was due to cancer.

What a wicked disease. Although the doctors told us not worry when we lost Dad, it always sticks in the back of your mind.

Now, here we are again. My brother is just 48, with young children in Jr. High, his oldest to be married this Fall.

Oh, I know, I am getting way ahead -- he hasn't even seen the specialist yet. But, lets get real. Everything else has already been ruled out.

Well, if you read this, Thank you for allowing me to vent. It feels much safer typing these words here rather than saying them to family who is terrified to acknowledge what may soon be true. Dad was sick for 5 months before his cancer was finally diagnosed. By that time he was already in a coma, then he was gone 4 weeks later.

We really don't know, do we? We really don't know.

 
Old 05-15-2008, 02:25 PM   #5
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Re: What is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

I fully understand you. My mom passed from colon cancer in 1998, I always thought cancer was someone elses' problem, but when it becomes a reality for a family member, especially one so close, you go through all the feelings you never had, anger,numbness, depression,and frustration including the highs and lows from success and failure of the affected relative as they go through treatment. About a year ago, my wife's aunt in Canada was diagnosed with lung cancer, and it has been a difficult thing us as we are as close as can be considering the distance we live from each other. She had been doing well, but just recently it was discovered the cancer had spread to different organs by her last scan. I wish you and your family the best of luck, but as you said, having seen my mom pass from cancer, we become become different people with an awareness of doom always over our shoulder for ourselves and those we love around us. Realizing cancer is a real possibility and that we are not immune either due to hereditary issues.

 
Old 05-15-2008, 04:07 PM   #6
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Re: What is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

Yes, I can see that you truely do understand. You have no idea how much your understanding means to me right now!

Although I am still in a state of shock, I am able to periodically focus on the situation at hand, and it renders me to tears. My main concern is my brother, and my secondary concern is our Mom.

She buried her Dad when she was just 24 due to liver cancer, then her mother 20 years later due to pancreatic cancer. Dad left us in 1999 because of that rare sarcoma the doctors reassured us was not hereditary (but is it?) Now, Mom is in another city taking care of her younger sister due to Hodgkins -- a sister who lost her own husband in 1999 from leukemia. Mom has been depending on me to go with my brother to the doctor visits and the testing (he's divorced) and she is also depending on me to keep her updated. I try to tell her as much as possible without lying .... or telling her too much.

After losing both parents, then her soulmate, now possibly her son -- she is 70 years old. This news is going to devastate her. I am praying for guidance, because I just don't know how to approach it, not right now.

Thank you so much for your kind words of understanding. It is truely sad to realize that there are so many people who deal with this wicked disease.

May God Bless You.

 
Old 05-15-2008, 06:48 PM   #7
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Re: What is a "hot spot" that appears in PET scans and CT scans?

I lost both my dad (1998) and my mom 2008.....so i know where you are coming from...but ya know...I learned here...Cancer is a calling card....everyone is going to die.......we are all heading there....cancer says....wake up...appreciate what you have....don't miss a moment...and yet...does not mean the end is near...means you are sick...do your best to take care of it...hopefully live many more fulfilling years...do not live your days waiting for death...but enjoy each an every day enjoying life...I lost my mom to this horrible disease...but even in her worst hours...we made memories.....we thought we had lost her months before...but her spirit was strong...and we had many happy memories before she passed.....I am not sure if this will make sense...but if we didn't kow she had cancer....and she didn't go through all that she did...we would have lost those special memories...not knowing her time was limited...take care...please keep in touch...c

 
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