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Hiding Cancer

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2010

My mother was diagnosed in April of 2009 with lung cancer. She had been monitoring what the doctors thought was an infection in her lungs for about a year beforehand, until one day it appeared in her scans as having spread throughout her lungs. They biopsied 3 tumors on her left lung and could not touch the tumor in her right lung because it was too deep within the lung and too big. However, the doctors did find that the 3 smaller tumors were cancerous.

She opted to not go through treatment as she wanted to live the rest of her life to the fullest. Since April, she's been back to the doctor monthly and they've told her the cancer is nowhere to be found! How can that be? She's claimed she has gotten 4 opinions, yet she's been told she's between stages 3-4. With regard to living her life to the fullest, she isn't. She never leaves her house, when she does, she tells everyone she encounters that she's "terminal". She functions just fine, is fully mobile and really doesn't exhibit any symptoms of pain with regard to her lungs. Her biggest complaint is being tired, which I believe to be associated with depression.

What I'd like to know is if anyone else has any experience with a hiding cancer, it appears and then disappears on the Xrays and scans.

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

I'm very sorry for what you and your family are going through.

I don't have any experience with hiding cancer and I don't mean to derail your thread but I would like to ask a question please. When they first discovered what they thought was an infection, why didn't they do a biopsy then? By reading your post it sounds like they waited a year before doing a biopsy. The reason I asked is that I had the opposite situation, I was told with great certainty I had cancer but they eventually determined it was an infection.

I do have a couple of suggestions related to your post.

1. Is she taking anti-depressants? My husband and I took Xanax while we were awaiting my results and it does make a difference. I hope she is not afraid to ask for such help.

2. How old is your mom? Is it possible she is confused about what they are telling her? Perhaps someone should go with her to her next appointment. A few years ago my late father-in-law told everyone he had cancer so I went with him to his dr appt. It turned out nobody ever mentioned cancer to him and that's when we knew he was in the early stages of dementia. I'm not saying your mom has dementia but if she is a senior it is possible she is having some confusion.

Wishing you and yours the very best, you and all members of this board are in my thoughts and prayers.

Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2010


Thank you for your response. I honestly don't know why they didn't biopsy her when they first found something in her lungs. From what my mother told me, the doctors thought it was an infection that appeared to be clearing up through the year and several xrays. The last one in April of 2009 had shown not only was it not gone, but it had spread throughout her lungs. This prompted the doctors to do an invasive biopsy. The doctors had actually waited a year 1/2 before performing a biopsy. The biopsy put my mother out of commission for about 2 months and she still claims she has not yet fully recovered from it (9 months later).

The doctors, as my mother has put it, have called this a "hiding" cancer and have said that it's rare. I just don't understand how you can go from having an inoperable tumor due to the mere size down to not being visible at all.

She's not on any antidepressants and is strictly against taking them. In addition, she refuses to go speak to a professional - even if just to talk.

My mother is now 63. I've been with her to an appointment and the doctor said her x-rays looked good and that there was no growth of her tumors. However, her latest visit to the oncologist, which was this past Friday, there was no sign of any cancer. I think you make a valid point that she may be experiencing some confusion.

Thank you for your note and advice. I appreciate it.

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