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Pet Scan

Sandi1's picture
Posts: 278
Joined: Aug 2008

Today was my husband's pet scan - for obvious reasons I could not go with him. He tolerated the procedure well and got home ok. I called him a little while after and asked him if he was feeling alright, the sound in his voice was disturbing. I asked him what's wrong - he said he peeked at the picture when they were doing his pet scan, he said he saw 2 red spots under his arm, and one in his groin area. I told him, you don't know what your looking at, so don't worry about it. His CEA number is 0.5, so there can't possibly be any cancer left right? He can't possibly have any new ones, because his CEA would go up, not down. I need reassurance so I can reassure him.

He said, if there is cancer there, we will just have to fight it again. He said i'm going out kicking and screaming, i'm not giving up. We just recently lost a distant family member to cancer - he fought a long time and then said, that's it I just can't fight any longer. This is not helping him.

Anything comments would help.


tiny one
Posts: 467
Joined: Jan 2009

I'm saying prayers that those spots weren't anything to worry about. It makes it very hard when you lose family to cancer. I've lost 3 people in the last 2 years to cancer. I wasn't prepared for how hard it would be after treatment was done. When it comes time to have the screenings it is hard not to panic. Are there support groups near you? My Friday support group has helped so much. I wish I could be of more help. God bless.

Sandi1's picture
Posts: 278
Joined: Aug 2008

Thank you. You know I thought I was able to handle this, but this has just put me into a tailspin. Now I don't know if I'm coming or going. We both had thoughts that he would be with us for a very long time to come - now I don't know anymore. I guess, I'm scared, scared for myself, scared for him, scared for us, scared for the family.

I hate feeling like this.


Posts: 872
Joined: Feb 2007

Waiting is the hardest thing of all. If he saw red spots they may just have been heat indicators--where are we all really warm? You got it! In our armpits and in our groin area. Meanwhile, I'll be praying.


robinvan's picture
Posts: 1014
Joined: May 2007

Hi Sandi...

When I first started getting PET scans they would send me home with a little CD so I could check things our on my computer at home. Whew!! Big Mistake! When I looked at my first one I was pretty sure I had cancer in my kidneys, bladder, and a few other placees!! Really there was nothing!

The radioactive tracer naturally accumulates in certain places... bladder being one for sure. It also accumulates at any site where metabolism is higher than normal. I think my port site glowed because the scar tissue was growing faster than the surrounding tissue.

Wait for the report and the Doctor consultation. If there is anything... then you can start talking about options.

Sounds like you and your husband have got the right attitude. "We'll deal with whatever we have to deal with... when we have to deal with it."

I hope it turns out to be negative (the scan that is!!)...

Peace... Rob

msccolon's picture
Posts: 1956
Joined: Oct 2004

Yea, i wouldn't think anything of it until I saw a printed interpretation of the scans! There are a lot of things that naturally uptake more of the stuff that has nothing to do with cancer. Besides, it's hard to know WHAT you are looking at unless you are trained in that kind of thing!

lisa42's picture
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi Sandi,

Echoing what Rob said, PET scans will normally show certain areas "lit up" (red/yellow), as the "stuff" they inject the patient with prior to the PET goes to any area of the body that has metabolic activity- this includes the bladder, heart, brain, plus a few other areas, as well. I'm not sure about under the arm, but maybe it's possible it does pick up heat, or maybe even your husband looked at it quickly and it was really the side of the heart?

I know I've tried to see mine in the past, too- one technician (who probably really wasn't supposed to say or show me anything)- well, she showed it to me and explained to me the big lit up area in my groin was my bladder and that was normal. Now, there's a big sign in the lab to "please do not ask technicians for results".

I know it's a rough wait, but explain this all to your husband. Also, rather than wait, hopefully he'll be able to go and get the results- or a copy of the scan report- from the Dr. If not, you can request it from the radiology dept where the scans are stored. Just this past week, I had a PET on Thursday & I went straight to the radiology dept of the hospital where they store the films and requested it & I even got my results before the doctor did.

Take care- I hope and pray that results are normal.


CherylHutch's picture
Posts: 1399
Joined: Apr 2007

Take a biggggg breath in and then out. Do this a few times to get rid of any pre-panic.

I have to echo what everyone else said... no need to panic or get worried at this time. For starters, I don't think when things light up on a PET scan that they light up in colour ;) The reason I say this, when my adrenal gland lit up big time (and yes, it was cancer), the radiologist who was doing my needle biopsy after they found out the PET showed activity, showed me the PET scan on the computer so I could see why they were concerned about it. To tell you the truth, it didn't make a whole lot of sense to me because he showed the lit up area in the adrenal gland and it was a bright white and quite large... but then there were bright white areas around other areas in that scan so I panicked and said, "Are all these white areas cancer too???" and he explained, that no they weren't... they were veins, or parts of the muscle or, blah, blah, blah. So I asked, "Well, how can you tell the difference... they all look like bright white spots or blobs... but are all the same colour and same intensity". He said you have to look at the shape... see how irregular the cancer tumour is in your adrenal gland? He then enlarged the area but for the life of me, I couldn't make out the difference... they looked like bright white spots to me... all of them.

The second scan I had... after it was over, the technician came into the dressing room and in a very serious voice asked me if I had had a recent surgery or trauma to my back on the left hand side. Hmmm... I told her that I didn't have any surgery and as far as I know, I haven't done anything to my back that would cause trauma and she said that they found an area on my back that has lit up and was quite large... which they were not expecting. (Again, I started panicking... the cancer is in my back???) She asked if she could take a look at my back, which of course I let her. She touched an area and Duh! As soon as she touched that area I told her, "OH, Wait!! I had a huge sebaceaous cyst form that had to be drained. Bad, bad infection (very painful) and that had just been a few weeks earlier. You could read the relief on her face! Answer to the mystery! Infection or scar tissue will light up the scan, even traces of a previous infection.

So, what I'm trying to say... unless you or your husband have a background in radiology, there is absolutely no way you can interpret colours, areas that light up, or what any of it means. Waiting for the results is as traumatic as going through a CAT, PET or BONE scan as actually seeing the scan and trying to interpret something you really don't know what it means... even if it's explained to you.

Hang in there!!


CanadaSue's picture
Posts: 340
Joined: Apr 2006

Hi Sandi,

My hubby Bill just had a Pet scan in order for them to do a CT biopsey. The doctor showed us the area where they were going to biopsey, and the whole area was lit up..... The results.... No cancer. And I was so sure that there was.

As someone else here said "don't borrow trouble".

Thinking of you both.



usakat's picture
Posts: 625
Joined: Jul 2006

Hello Sandi ~

PET scans will "light up" all areas of high metabolic activity or fast growing cells in the body - such as cancer cells, or normal fast growing cells in various areas like the groin area in both men and women, bladder, sometimes scar tissue and sometimes areas of inflammation, among others.

Ultimately I think what your husband is going through right now, which is so typical for the cancer patient/survivor, is anxiety related to his scan. It's the waiting that is so hard. Usually it's a nameless or non-directional sort of anxiety, but with your husband having actually seen the scan it has given him something or someplace to focus his anxiety. I suppose it's like knowing there are spiders in your house, but not being scared of them until you actually SEE one. Know what I mean???

In any case, it's hard to assuage a cancer survivor's anxiety in cases like this - it's a storm you just have to ride out. Just be there for him, let him know you understand his concern...and most important...just listen. Try not to convince him he is either right or wrong - his doctor will clarify everything for him when the results are in. If you want to be proactive, you or your husband can call his doctor's office and let them know you are waiting and anxious to hear the results....you know what they say about the squeaky wheel....

Keeping you and your husband in my thoughts and prayers - many blessings for comfort and good health.


Sandi1's picture
Posts: 278
Joined: Aug 2008

Thank you all for your kind words, thoughts and prayers. I told him, that he is not to worry - I will find out the answers for him. I also told him, we are both not doctors, so neither one of us knows what you saw.

So, we will be leaving for Canada for Easter with my family on Thursday and hopefully that will help to keep his mind off of things.

Again, thank you all so much!


tootsie1's picture
Posts: 5054
Joined: Feb 2008


I just pray that the results will be great, and I really think they will.



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