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whole body scan - other cancers found?

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2011

When a whole body scan is done to find if thyroid cancer has spread, would it show other cancers also?

Posts: 582
Joined: Oct 2010

This is going to depend on the type of scan that they do. Ask your doctor or Radiologist to explain exactly what they will be able to see on the type of scan you are having.

alapah's picture
Posts: 287
Joined: Oct 2009

I am not an expert, but my guess based on how thyroid cancer body scans work would lead me to believe that that particular scan would not pick up other cancers. This is because the WBS you will have works by 'picking up' emissions of the radioactive iodine that you were dosed with earlier - the scan itself is not radiation based, it's just responding to residual RAI in any thyroid cells remaining within your body. BTW, a person can sit in the room with you during the WBS because the scanner is not emitting any dangerous waves. As I understand it, thyroid cells are really the only ones in your body likely to absorb the RAI so the test is only going to detect thyroid cells (and not necessarily cancerous ones, just active ones that also happen to suck up iodine).

The only test I know of that can find other cancers in the body would be a PET or combination PET/CT. I have had these and they did pick up nodules in my lungs that didn't show in the WBS because I am no longer iodine avid. I don't think PET scans are that commonly ordered for thyca patients unless there are underlying reasons. It's a pricey scan that exposes you to a fair amount of radiation.

Posts: 507
Joined: Apr 2010

the WBS they do with the Radioactive Iodine will only detect thyroid cancer anywhere in the body since thyroid tisue is the only one that absorbs Iodine.

Posts: 582
Joined: Oct 2010

Unfortunately my whole body scan did not show the cancerous Lymph nodes which I had at the time and didn't know it. It only showed that my remaining thyroid tissue absorbed the RAI.

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2011

I think when you have thyroid cancer...you should have to get a cat scan done on your body just to make sure it hasnt spread. This should be a requirement. I was lucky to have found the ones on my lungs. I had a cat scan for an entirely different reason..and they happened to see it.

Posts: 16
Joined: Feb 2010

I believe if your having the whole body scan after the RAI 131 then it doesn't show anything but any extra thyroid tissue left behind, but ask your radiologist. Sometimes once you start asking they fill you in on all kinds of info you didn't know. It wasn't until I called a second time that the radiologist said: Oh ya, be sure to drink a lot of water and maybe take some miralax because you have a lot of radio iodine left in your bowels! I was like, WHAT? haha.
So, ask, ask, and ask!
I just had a PET scan last week showing a lymph that is causing concern in the middle of my neck, a CT scan of the neck before that and just had another CT scan this time of the chest last Friday. So, I sit and wait.....It's so nicfe to have support on this site! Everyone helps keep you informed and asking!

Remember you have the right to ask anything you want. AND make sure you get copies of everything they have done!

Posts: 8
Joined: Jan 2011

I just has my 3rd whole body scan yesterday in 3 weeks. It does not only find cancer, it can also show uptake that can be normal in the liver, bowel and nasalphaynx areas and I am sure others spots but that is where mine has lite up for 21 days post RAI. AS well as nodes inthe neck...not so normal. My understanding is that everything that lights up does not neccesarily have to be bad. Thank goodness.

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