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Diagnosis from X-ray only??

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2010

Grandmother had chest x-ray and regular doctor found is shadow in one part of it. Because of her age he sid they wont do anything. I understand that, but is it accurate to diagnoisis based on a x-ray only? She has no risk factors for lung cancer except her husband was a mild smoker, but he died in 1970. Does a spot on the lung automatically mean LC?
I know she has had recent blood work done and they have not said anything about cancer or any irrigularities. Thought Im not sure what they were testing.

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

You need a second opinion, PRONTO!! No, a spot on the lung does not always mean cancer.

Last summer I was having breathing problems so I had a CT scan. They discovered a large mass in my right lung (6 cm x 7.3 cm) and the ER doc told me with 90% certainty it is cancer. Long story short, after 3 biopsies and a PET scan they determined it is not cancer but they still didn't know what it was. Finally I got so sick they did an upper right lobectomy and discovered it was a really bad bacterial infection.

A more competent doctor told me the CT scan is a good tool for detecting abnormal growth but not a good tool for diagnosing cancer. An X-Ray is an even less effective tool for diagnosing cancer.

Of course I cannot tell you with any certainty your grandma does not have cancer, but please do not accept a cancer diagnosis based only on an X-Ray or even a CT scan.

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2010

Thanks, So far she seems to not have any symptoms and feels fine(knock on wood). How long the spot has been there is anybodys guess. It was just randomly found when the did a chest x-ray.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

I agree with PBJ: the spot could be the result of a previous pneumonia or bronchitis spot in addition to an infection that she mentions.

As far as I know, the only true way to establish whether something is cancer is to remove it (biopsy) and test it. Even then, if it is small enough, some answers might not be available. An x-ray, even a CT scan, even a PET scan, they can find 'spots', or can find 'hot spots', but these only INDICATE a need for concern, particularly when subsequent scans reveal the spot is growing.

They do not, ever, to my knowledge, determine whether something is malignant. They can show, through comparison, that a spot is growing, but they can't establish that it is cancer.

For that, I believe only a biopsy gets it done.

Best wishes to grandma and her family. You are to be commended for your concern.

Take care,


Posts: 1
Joined: Apr 2010

I had an exray done, but just five months later non-small cell lung cancer was found by biopsy. Definitely get a second opinion/biopsy. Good luck.

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