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Two ENT's missed stage IV base of tongue cancer

buzz99's picture
Posts: 404
Joined: Sep 2010

Has anyone had the experience of being examined by an ENT who completely missed a Stage IV tumor? ENT #1 did not see a thing, using mirrors, but asked for a second opinion. ENT #2 used a scope but did not see a thing, stating "It looks like you are cured." (Buzz had tonsil cancer 9 years ago). Then he felt Buzz's tongue and noted it to be raised and firm on one side. He ordered a PET scan but told us we could delay the scan so we go on vacation! We could have easily postponed the trip. After the scan showed the tumor, ENT #3 used a scope and could see the tumor. We found out later that ENT's #'s 1 and 2 do mostly ear tubes! Not all ENT's are created equal and some should not be checking for cancer if they are not qualified.

Hondo's picture
Posts: 6643
Joined: Apr 2009

Sorry to hear about the ENT mixup but you are right not all ENT's are the same

SASH's picture
Posts: 400
Joined: Apr 2006

I only had 1 ENT miss mine. He kept claiming it was a sinus infection and was treating this for several months. When I went to my primary care, he spotted it and sent me to get a biopsy.

I agree, not all ENTs are created equal.

D Lewis's picture
D Lewis
Posts: 1576
Joined: Jan 2010

The only reason my primary BOT tumor was found was that I had a persistent 3-cm lymph node that my ENT decided to remove. Turned out to be metastatic SCC. He had to send me for a PET-CT, where the base of my tongue (and several sub-cm lymph nodes on both sides) lit up. Yep. Stage IV. Missed. Then, he was able to do a focused biopsy on the BOT, which came back positive. Otherwise, it would not have been found. All ENTs are not created equal, but BOT SCC is very very good at hiding. Don't be too hard on the ENTs. Sounds like they did all they could.


luv4lacrosse's picture
Posts: 1410
Joined: Jul 2010

I agree. I had no symptoms from a tumor that just about ate away most of my right tonsil. I was originally diagnosed as BOT just because of the swelling that came from my tonsil. I had no clue I was walking around with this. I dicovered a mass in the right side of my neck on June 12th. and hence my journey started.


Pam M's picture
Pam M
Posts: 2196
Joined: Nov 2009

We all pin our hopes on our docs being "on the mark"; rough to hear that you had two ENTs miss the tumor. Thank goodness for the third. Here's hoping Buzz does well anyway.

JUDYV5's picture
Posts: 392
Joined: Jun 2010

That not all ENT's are equal - but it is easier to find something if you know it is there.
The doctor that diagnosed my cancer was an ear tube guy. The gastrologist who performed the first scope to find out why I was so anemic almost missed the polyp (because it was in a very unusual place). He actually wrote this in his report. Both doctors told me that they didn't think it was anything - but I should get it removed just to be sure.

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