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Scan results...

eihtak
Posts: 868
Joined: Oct 2011

So, on friday I got the results from my recent chest and pelvis CT scans. In Feb.2011 I was diagnosed with Stage3 Anal Cancer (chemo/rad/colostomy) and in Feb. 2012 Secretory Carcinoma of the breast (mastectomy). For the most part my scans remain stable with a few areas of improvement and a few minor freckles to keep an eye on. I always get a copy of the report and then spend the next several weeks looking up every other phrase that I don't understand. This is both interesting but also causes me to often worry needlessly.
In one part it states that there is circumferential thickening involving the distal anus. It states that it is extremely difficult to quantify the disease burden within this irregularly marginated soft tissue around the anus. Also difficult to ascertain whether or not this soft tissue is purely reflective of malignancy, or whether or not some of this may be reflective of fibrosis. Again at the end of the report it states that it is a very irregular area of soft tissue thickening.
Since my colostomy was originally to be reversed I still have all my parts (rectum,anus...)they are just not in use. I have been dealing with extreme inflamation since treatment ended, but just recently noticed steady improvement. I told my doc that I felt as though I could feel my anus, not pain at all, just that after feeling mostly numb for so long it was as though now I had feeling. I thought this was a good thing but am now wondering if the reason I feel something is due to this "thickening" and maybe a not so good thing.
During the discussion and brief exam with my doc he made little mention of this. I don't see him for 3 months but may call after Christmas.
I'm just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this so called soft tissue thickening around the anus.
Thank you, As always, all in my prayers.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3019
Joined: Jan 2010

I'm sorry that your CT scan has left you with many questions. Could the thickening around your anus be due to scar tissue or inflammation? I wonder if a PET scan would be indicated? Also, have your doctors mentioned getting a biopsy of the area? While my colorectal doctor is not a fan of routine biopsies, she would certainly do one if something on a scan indicated a possibility of recurrence. I think I would ask about this.

As for the increased feeling you have in that area, it could be just that your nerve endings have healed enough that you have regained some feeling there. I know that for months after my treatment ended, I kept having increased awareness of my anal area. That has subsided after 4+ post-treatment.

Since it cannot be discerned on your scan results exactly what this thickening is, I would continue to seek answers. I sincerely hope it turns out to be nothing more than scar tissue and/or inflammation. Please keep us posted.

eihtak
Posts: 868
Joined: Oct 2011

I always respect your opinion and my gut tells me that its more of an increased awareness or feeling in that area, but will bother me until I know for sure. This scan report was much more detailed than my usual. The wording was even different so don't know if theres been a change in how the scan is translated or we just have a new person at the job but I liked it. The thickening was barely mentioned on the previous scan, yet when this one mentioned it for comparison it did state that it was only very minimally changed. I will call after Christmas with my concerns. When I was originally diagnosed I brushed every symptom off for as long as I could and I will NEVER do that again.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 3019
Joined: Jan 2010

In a perfect world, our scans would be read by the same radiologist each and every time. However, we know that doesn't happen. I have read and re-read many of my scan results and have come to appreciate the wording used by some radiologists but find that some of them leave me perplexed, with a feeling of vagueness as to what exactly it was they saw on the scan. I have found sometimes a little activity has been seen on some of my post-treatment PET scans in the anal area and was mentioned on the narrative report. But then other times, it was not mentioned at all, but apparently was there because they always compare the current scan to the previous one. It's confusing and always leaves me with a little bit of doubt. My only saving grace is that I live next door to a radiologist who is also a dear friend who works at the hospital where I always get my scans. He's a straight shooter and always looks at my films and makes sure the reading doctor's impression agrees with his. He brings me my results and always takes the time to answer my questions or explain any findings to me that might make me nervous. As he has told me many times there is no such thing as a perfect scan, but wording can certainly make a difference in how we interpret results.

For anyone just beginning this journey, ALWAYS make sure you have your scans at the same facility if at all possible for ease of comparison. Also, obtain copies of the narrative reports and a CD-rom of the film. That way, if you ever move, you will have that information with you. The same goes with lab results--always request a copy of the report.

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