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PET Scan vs CT scan and some other questions

Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2011

I posted last week about my mom who was recently diagnosed with endometrial carcinoma grade 1, had a hysterectomy and doctor thought it was stage 1A (he is obgyn/oncologist), but when pathology report came back the following week he was in shock that they found some cancer cells in the cervix (which was removed as well) In the report it says that it extends a short distance, where it invades into the stroma of the endocervix. Doctor said he is not 100% sure this is correct; he was going to discuss with pathologists, but from the report he said my mom might be sent for radiation and a PET SCAN to make sure there is no more cancer. A week later they told us the insurance doesn't cover the PET Scan so they were going to send her for a CT scan which was almost as good. I wonder if a CT Scan is really good in detecting cancer cells (my mom didn't even have a mass formed...only cells (extensive superficial), and I would like to be sure a CT scan is enough to detect any cancer activity that is not tumor yet....any oppinions? Also my mom has been complaining of much tiredness after 3 weeks from hysterectomy (nurse said it's normal given the nature of the surgery; there's usually significant blood loss...), and she has also been complaining of a lump at wound place (inside), and urinary frequency...are these common?
Thank you all for your help!!!

daisy366's picture
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

like you have found, insurance companies will deny PET scans for some diagnoses. Since I have endometrial cancer, they would only pay for CT scans at first. If I had ovarian a PET would be approved. I fought the battle and finally was able to get PET AFTER getting the CT. Your doc is the key, if he/she is not willing to fight or does not think it warrants a PET than you are really stuck. Many of us just get CTs. Some docs prefer one over the other. I think your mother will do fine with CT and blood work since this is how they usually monitor. If things show up down the line, than the PET will be easier to get approved.

I hope this has been helpful and wish the best for your mother and family. Mary Ann

Posts: 4
Joined: Jan 2011

Yes, doctor said CT Scan should be ok...I just wanted to make sure it is good enough to detect problems even at cell level (when it's not a mass yet for prompt treatment)...I thought PET scan might be more sensitive to detect problems at earlier stage, but may not be the case...since so many doctors just go along with insurance...but to me my mom's health is more important even if I had to pay little by little (don't even know if they would allow that anyway...) But again, like you say, CT scan might be good enough and this why they do it the way they do it....
Thank you much for your help...really appreciate it ;-)

RGK's picture
Posts: 20
Joined: Oct 2009

Dear poly,
First, I'm really sorry to hear about your mom's diagnosis, but I'm glad that you've found your way here. The difference between the PET and CT scan, as I understand it, is that the CT scan provides a picture of anatomy, structure, and shape, and the PET scan detects hypermetabolic activity. There is also a PET/CT scan, which fuses them together and provides a combined image. As I understand it, neither has the power to detect the cellular presence of cancer, but a PET scan can detect cellular metabolic changes. If you do some reading here, you'll see that people are screened differently -- some with CT, some PET, some PET/CT. Some people have had trouble getting insurance companies to pay for PET/CT scans. If your doctor's willing to push for it, it might be worth it.
wishing you and your mother all the best,

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