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The_Cheese_Man 01-16-2004 06:38 PM

Test results for oral cancer today...what does all of this mean?

I don't know if you all remember but I had a CT scan w/contrast dye of my head and neck a few weeks ago that showed "superficial swelling" of the mandibular lymph nodes but no tumors or other abnormalities. I had chewed snuff for 22 years and quite about 3 weeks ago.

I then had a CBC w/Diff plus electrolytes. This test came back normal.

Last monday I had two biopsies. One of the gingiva (gum) and the other of the inside of my cheek (buccal mucosa).

Today I called up the nurse from the ENT's office and was told that the lab did'nt find any malignancies but that it was a "false-negative" and it was still very important that I keep my upcoming appointment because "we" would need to keep a very close eye on this. She also said that the doctor was really the one who would need to interpret the results and discuss this with me.

As soon as I got off the phone I was ecstatic. No cancer... YIPEE!!!. Then I read what a false negative REALLY meant and it was very depressing to say the least. From what I understand (and please correct me if I'm wrong) a "false-negative" means that you probably DO have cancer but that the lab just was'nt able to detect it. Is this right?. I also read that people who get back a false negative result sometimes have an "unwarranted sense of optimism which means (I'm guessing) that they really don't have any reason to BE optimistic.

Can someone help me out here please and explain to me what all this means?. I am feeling all doomy and gloomy here. Even if I do have oral cancer, does it sound like I at least caught it pretty early?. I have never had cancer before in my life and feel like I might as well start making out my will )-:

Thank you for your kind replies

indian 01-16-2004 11:16 PM

Re: Test results for oral cancer today...what does all of this mean?

I work for an ENT who specializes in oral cancers. A false/negative could be signs of an early cancer or it could be signs of a condition known as a leukoplakia which is a type of benign condition, or the false/negative could also be a pre-cancerous condition sometimes known as a hyperplasia. What type of symptoms do you have. Early signs of oral cancer are weight loss when not dieting, hoarseness, throat pain, burning sensation in the oral cavity including possibly the tongue, unexplained headaches. If the biopsies of the two areas showed a false/negative your ENT may suggest an endoscopy to look down the throat and esophagus to make sure there are no tumors or anything else going on in that are. If it were me, I think I would go for a second opinion to put my mind at ease. It you are diagnosed with a precancerous or early cancer of the oral cavity it is highly treatable and there are many treatment options available including laser surgery. You may just have a simple inflammation of the glands. I don't know how old you are, but we treat people of all ages with oral cavity problems and they do pretty well with early diagnosed conditions. [COLOR=Navy]{Content removed}[/COLOR] The reason I suggest a second opinion is mostly for your piece of mind and sometimes one Dr. will pick up what another doesn't. It doesn't mean that one Dr. is better than the other but one Dr. may order other tests that another one doesn't. I hope this information is helpful.

The_Cheese_Man 01-17-2004 09:21 AM

Re: Test results for oral cancer today...what does all of this mean?
Hi Indian

First of all I want to thank you immensely for the encouraging reply. I want you to know that I found a great deal of comfort in knowing that even if I do have cancer, there is at least a pretty good chance that I caught it fairly early and I think I read somewhere that the cure rate for early detection of sqaumous cell carcinomas of the oral cavity are somewhere between 80-90%.

A little bit about me. I am aged 40, Male and I dipped snuff for 22 years. I was also an alcoholic and chain-smoker for a year and a half because of some pretty bad stress that was occurring in my life at the time. These two habits, I quit over a year ago thank's to God's help (I was REALLY addicted!).

It seems that from what I have read since yesterday and from what your telling me that a false negative is a diagnosis that results when not enough of the infectious material is found to make a conclusive diagnosis. For example, a false negative for HIV might occurr if the test was taken before enough antibodies could be made to provide a conclusive result. Is this pretty much the way it works?.

You mention leukoplakia and that is exactly what I do have. I had a small patch on the lower-left gingiva (way in the back near the hinge of my jaw) and another one that started out as a canker-type sore but which later turned into a firm, white patch on the upper-right buccal mucosa. The former, I had for 2 years. The latter, for about 2 months.

My symptoms began with mildly swollen lymph nodes under the jaw for which I was prescribed an antibiotic by my general practicioner. I read that with oral cancer, these lymph nodes can become swollen and so I got into the bad habit of feeling them all the time which may have produced the swelling (I don't know). I also began to notice the leukoplakia was becoming more and more irritated and almost seemed to be sending white "tentacles" out under the surface which was pretty scary!. I have been having those unexplained headaches/neckaches which are mild but worriesome. Finally, these little cold-sores kept popping up in various places in my mouth. They would pop up and then be gone the next day.

I will see the ENT again next week and I am hoping he will do more biopsies, remove these things completely, do an endoscopy or something besides just tell me to "wait and watch". So far he seems like a very good doctor and I have received thorough and professional treatment.

Well, I guess I'll close for now. You have been very helpful and I appreciate it. The patients where you work are indeed very lucky to have someone like you who is both caring and knowledgable!:)

SamQKitty 01-17-2004 07:32 PM

Re: Test results for oral cancer today...what does all of this mean?
Cheese Man,
Just a quick note of encouragement. Although the location of our cancers is entirely different, mine was thought to be squamous cell, and it was 3rd stage! I had chemotherapy (a combination of taxol and carboplatin) and radiation treatment, and it's now been 3 years since my diagnosis and 2 1/2 years since I finished all signs of any reoccurrence.

So, even if you do have cancer, catching it at this early stage is a good reason to be very optimistic.


Boyle 07-01-2005 12:04 PM

Re: Test results for oral cancer today...what does all of this mean?
hi indian,]
thanks for the info. i recently had a white patch removed and waiting for the results. i bite my cheek due to tmj and cerebral palsy

Boyle 07-01-2005 12:08 PM

Re: Test results for oral cancer today...what does all of this mean?
the good news is i'm gaining weight not losing. i went from 65lbs to 77lbs in a yr. my previous dr let me go 10yrs with a twisted bowel which almost killed me last yr. i have a good dr now.

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