Tell me what the stages mean

CCAOG Member Posts: 31
edited March 2014 in Lung Cancer #1
I had excessive small cell in rt lung. Went thru radiation and chemo. Last treatment in Aug. Scan in Sept was clear. In mid Dec started getting pain in back of rt lung. Dr found fluid and drained it. sent it to lab and it had cancer cells in it. Although the lung has very little fluid, I still have pain in the back and am short of breath when excerted. Dr says it could be in the bones. Had a bone scan yesterday and a pet scan today. What are they looking for, bone cancer, more tumors in the lung? Can anyone give me any feed back on this? Waiting on results SUCKS. Next appt is for cat scan on the 12th. Next dr appt is 19th. Why are they waiting so long? I allready know I will need more chemo, and want to get it started. What stage is this? What stages have I been thru? Am I being too anxious?


  • mercey
    mercey Member Posts: 33
    These are questions you
    These are questions you need to ask your dr.But as a lung cancer patient I can tell you the PET scan is looking for cancer anywhere.Have you had one before ? Not sure why they are doing both PET and CAT scan as a PET has a built in CAT scan with it.Bone scan is looking for it in the bones although a PET scan will show that if it is big enough. Waiting is the worse and they do have you waiting awhile for your test the dr and see if they can move the app. up and find out about the Pet scan sooner. I still have back pain and shortness of breath and my last scan was Dec 11th which showed me still cancer free,,so don't get too nervous.Although I was out of my mind when I was diagnosed April 2008 with terminal lung cancer.Gave me 2 months.20 months later I am here and cancer free,I have a strong faith in healing from the word of God..remember miracles still happen.And it seems you started out stage one if it was only in the lung.If it has spread then the staging goes up. I was stage 3 because it was inoperable and in the lymph nodes but no where else in my body.Found two spots on my brain .that made it stage 4.Then next test brain spots were gone by the grace of God.So back to stage three.Call your Dr and get some peace of at least where you stand.. prayerfully, Jill
  • soccerfreaks
    soccerfreaks Member Posts: 2,788
    staging and sundry other things
    Staging is based on things like size of node/tumor, type of cancer, location, pervasiveness within the location, spread to other areas, pervasiveness of spread to other areas, and perhaps a few I am not listing.

    Contrary to what mercey seems to be indicating, you can be staged beyond Stage 1 without the cancer ever leaving one area. Again, these other factors are taken into account as well. I am at a loss as to how this respondent, in fact, determined that you were Stage 1 given only the information you provide.

    Contrary to the response from mercey, PET scans and CT scans ARE different, quite different, and in my own experience it has not been uncommon to get both, with different sorts of things revealed by each.

    As for the waiting, it seems to be one of the most excruciating things to deal with when we are dealing with cancer. There are a few reasons for this, among them difficulty in scheduling appointments for both doctors AND equipment, along with the probability that they must wait between CT scans, for example, in order to give any cancer that exists time to reveal itself.

    That sounds counterintuitive, I know, but the fact is that they use the CT scans for comparison: by comparing your previous CT scan to this next one they can evaluate the 'hot spots' detected in the PET scan and determine whether they have grown or not; often, after all, those hot spots are not cancer but the result of infection or some such; often, after all, the shadows and masses indicated in the previous CT scan are scar tissue or something else of the sort, things that will not grow while cancer almost certainly will.

    Waiting is the hardest part, as Tom Petty sang, but sometimes something we have to put up with if we are to avoid unnecessary treatment.

    With respect to what they are looking for, it seems self-evident, and it seems you know that: a bone scan is done, in this case, most likely to determine whether there has been spread to the bones; a PET scan is done to determine whether there are new hot spots in the original location or elsewhere. I am frankly surprised you did not include a brain MRI in your to-do list as well.

    It happens, CCAOG, that small cell carcinoma is typically an aggressive cancer. It is NOT insurmountable, but it IS aggressive, and it sounds as though, given the waiting element, your doctors are dealing with it in an aggressive manner as well.

    Anxiety, CCAOG, is to be expected, I know firsthand. But do not let the cancer get the upperhand from a mental perspective.

    Best wishes with your scans.

    Take care,

  • mercey
    mercey Member Posts: 33
    Contrary to what soccerfreaks seems to think of my opinions.I just had this discussion with my oncologist about PET ,CAT, and bone scans, etc.So maybe it is the Drs answer which was wrong.I don't believe so. I have had them all including MRIs.But all of the test are different and do different things.Except a PET scan DOES have a CAT scan built in it.Which is how they keep an eye on the old growths and still looking for new ones or any changes while looking for new hot spots and making sure the old hot spots have not changed.Having all of the test done is a good way to cover all areas I think,so your Dr is being very cautious..which is good. And as far as staging,,yes there are different things that the surgeon uses to determine staging but the main decisions for staging{ once again from my dr} is size, location,and if it has spread. The main thing is trying to stay sane while waiting for the answers.It is one of the hardest battles to go through but you can do it! There are many people on this site who share your EXACT feelings..I would still try and move your app. up.That is a long time for you to wait for the answers you need...prayerfully.. Jill