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Doctor's wrong call?

Posts: 1
Joined: May 2007

My father was recently diagnosed with emphazemia (sp) and his PA also told him that he had 2 softball sized dark spots one on each lung that she is fairly sure (70%) are cancer. (Both my grandparents died of lung cancer).

His PA has decided not to have any testing done for 2 months and is only treating the emph with inhailer and nebulizer.

She told my dad that in a couple of months, they will test for cancer but that she wanted to see if the emph treatment worked first.

I'm thinking that he needs to get in now to be tested. Am I jumping the gun or am I on track? Any input would be great.

Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2007

I would strongly encourage you to speak with your doctor about some sort of diagnostic scan other than an x-ray. x-rays may/can be difficult to read and catch these inconsistencies - especially if there are some questionable spots that are centrally located. even though, these are usually the first line of defense because they are the cheapest/insurance reasons etc... i would talk with an actual doctor first (not a PA) and INSIST on a ct scan. my father has an incredibly agressive lung cancer that was missed on a chest xray. one note - ct scans are pricey - since you're paying a fair ammount for this, i would make sure/demand it's the latest technology available... typically - larger cities/facilities have access to this equipment. lung cancer can advance QUICKLY. i recently watched this happen to my father who was misdiagnosed with bronchitis - 30 days can make a HUGE difference. if you don't get any response from your primary care doctor - i would suggest meeting with a pulmonologist - who can make the diagnosis.... good luck - please let me know what you find out.


ernrol's picture
Posts: 91
Joined: Apr 2006

I would contact a good oncologist or pulmonary doctor. You want to find out as early as possible. A CT scan and a PET scan would tell you more. I would not wait.

Stay positive,


Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

From my experience, it seems ridiculous to wait for further testing when the PA is fairly certain the suspicious spots are cancerous. Okay, I can understand being conservative and not alarmist but what if the spots are cancerous? It's best to catch cancer as early as possible and start treatment or the wait of 2 months could give time for the cancer to spread outside of the chest region when it becomes even more difficult to "cure."

I know the PA's approach as that was my mother's pulmonologist's not assuming the worst. He kept looking for an infection, which would, of course, been the better diagnosis. To be fair to him, all the diagnostic tests he performed and received from the hospital (mainly of the fluids in the lungs) were negative. So there was a false sense of security against cancer. What I've learned from all of that is a lot of those tests don't catch everything. Forget all the wasted tests, get a PET scan.

Try to convince the PA to schedule a PET scan. I'd say forget about a CT; it'll only be one more inconclusive test that a PET scan will be closer to conclusive (with a biopsy absolute certainty). If that PA won't agree, find another doctor - a cancer specialist. Depending on your dad's insurance, PET scans are expensive, but considering it's life and death, it's well worth it to spare you the waiting.

With that said, I do hope your dad's spots are just infections. Good luck and my best wishes.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

I started with an xray that led to a CT followed by a PET/CT scan that confirmed it was probably cancer followed by a CT scan that showed that it might have grown that was finally followed by a biopsy that confirmed it was cancer. That took great insurance and about 7 months total. I would get in touch with a surgeon specializing in lung cancer right away, have him read the xray and schedule a PET/CAT scan at the closest facility. If it looks iffy, he might be able to order a biopsy the fastest. Sometime they can go down the throat instead of through the ribcage so that the breathing problems won't be so problematic. They could also do a sputum test to determine if it is lung cancer. I have read research that that is available in some circles though I wasn't offered that. Good luck!

Posts: 13
Joined: Mar 2007

My surgeon also wanted to wait a couple months and see if the "spot" grew anymore. However, at the insistence of my lung doctor, he went ahead and did surgery after finding out I had adequate insurance coverage. It was cancer and they removed almost all of my left lung. If I had waited a couple months, it could have worsened and maybe even been inoperable.

There were issues over my being disabled and the surgeon not knowing that I also had private care health insurance and not disability insurance. When he asked about my insurance status and found out I had private insurance, then he was willing to operate. Some surgeons are not willing to operate because they are worried they won't get paid. In your Dads case, I hope this is not the reason, but what kind of insurance does he carry?

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