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Which is best? A CT scan or Pet Scan.

Posts: 150
Joined: Mar 2011

I would like to know which is better or has anyone had a different result with them?

PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

It depends on circumstances and what they are looking for. When they first discovered a mass in my lung they did a CT scan to get a better picture of it. They eventually did a PET scan to see if the "cancer" had spread to other organs.

The reason I put "cancer" in quotes is that it turned out I did not have cancer, but that was only confirmed after the lobectomy. On the PET scan my lung did light up, but it was a false positive as a PET scan will light up for any abnormal growth.

Please give us a bit more info as to what they are looking for and we will help if we can.

Posts: 150
Joined: Mar 2011

My husband was scheduled for a pet and ct scan last week; however, we ended up in the hospital last week for a lot of pain in right side, plus my husband's pain has increase all over. In May I was told that cancer had spread to his lungs-slow growing. I was told that he had a tumor pressing against his trachea that could possibly lead to lungs. My husband has stage iv breast cancer with mets to all of his bones. He had severe shortness of breath to the point that he could not walk from the bedroom to the living area. They increased his pain meds back in May, changed his chemo... got better. There has been a decline in health since August...weight loss, pain increased, like I said. The dr. scheduled a PET Scan and CT, but we went to the hospital. They did an x-ray and CT. Were told 2 different things--bowels ok, then maybe inflamed. Everything else ok. So they increased his pain meds --doubled Dilaudid, gave him some fluids and sent him home. I am having a hard time grasping onto my husband looks and is aging like an 80 year old. He is 43...can't walk without a walker, painful everyday. But we haven't had a Pet Scan in almost a year...but we have had CT. Chest hurts more and more, when he he coughs. I saw the paper work with lung adenocarcinoma--in May...what changed? I am confused.

Posts: 199
Joined: Jan 2011

It sounds to me as though you very much need a second opinion. If your husband is deteriorating as you describe, then someone is missing something.
Your GP can probably step in and help you with this. I would do it right away.
Good luck.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

This does not sound like an issue of which scan is preferred in this instance, but rather the question seems to be what happened during the decision making/diagnostic process. Are youo with him at every session with his doctors? Are you establishing written questions for them and then having them answered (and recorded in your notebook)? I'm not sure who is out of the loop here, but it seems that your questions are of such alarming enormity that you need to have them addressed immediately, not by us but by Onco Man.

At the same time, the way you describe his physical condition is equally alarming and should be addressed at once. You need to be with him, you need to have pen and notebook, and you need to understand what is happening and how to overcome it. It may take a nutritionist, it may take a feed tube, it may take a serious change in diet, but something must be done to undo the corrosion in his physical strength and well-being.

Get back in to the docs, with questions in hand, and stay until you have answers that satisfy you. Then, from the answers received, go home and come up with your next set of questions and repeat the process until you are satisfied that you and hub are aware of what is going on.

Hard to fault a physician at this point: you have to take charge.

Best wishes to hub and his family. Please be sure to make time for yourself by the way, believe it or not: to be a good caregiver, you have to take good care of the giver.

Take care,


Posts: 150
Joined: Mar 2011

I almost feel like I am. I know I probably sound like a broken record,but it just doesn't make sense. Okay...I write down questions for the dr. I have missed maybe one appointment-two max in the past 2 plus years. I go to all of his treatments. The dr. told me back in May that we were playing a a cat and mouse game-it is just a matter of time before it overtakes him--buying time. He told my husband..."you dodged another bullet". My husband started feeling a better after they changed his meds.

We had a dr's appointment today and when we got there my husband said that his throat has been hurting for the past 3 months and it hurts to hold his head back. He told the dr that he hurts to cough. The dr said, "Your chemistry looks good. Your CT scan, the one on the stomach and chest show no progression". It hurts my husband to ride in a car. I have to dogde all of the bumps. The dr. told him that his CBC looked good and that he was giving him a break until January from chemo.Maybe I am thinking too much, but my husband is tired all the time, short of breath a lot, ,,,well you know my story.

I have asked a lot of questions but the answers are always vague and my husband seems to down play when I talk to dr.


Posts: 183
Joined: Apr 2011

I see your dilemma. Something does not seem right. What has the doc said about hubbys deteriorating health and high pain level? Seems like something has changed. Would hubby agree to a second opinion? Alot of second opinions can be done with just medical records. Maybe you could contact a cancer center that is close. Might have a different tx plan that could give better results. What's the harm in getting second opinion? Stay strong and never give up! Prayers and positive thoughts to you Jackie. Cheryl

sleepless in jersey
Posts: 185
Joined: Feb 2011

It could get very over whelming ask the Doc's they sometimes give you a very vague answer and change the subjct quickly that now your heels are turning on what he just said so now you forgot to go back to the quest. that he didn't really answer. It's happened to us :(
We have called Sloan Kettering where Mom has gone for her 2nd opinion back in Jan. and they said they do phone/mail consultations. I called Mom's insurance and they will pay in full mail, but not phone so we gathered her in tire pkt of what they wanted on the 18th of Nov. and now we wait.

So get a 2nd opinion.

Good Luck to you both!

God Bless

Posts: 150
Joined: Mar 2011

Let me know what the results are. I feel like I am in the dark. I stair at my husband because he does not look like my husband. Well, I have told my story so many times. I can not tell you what is going on with him definitely. The dr. took him off chemo for a couple of months and my husbands appetite is continue to decline. He is already small---around 148 now. He was 250 since first diagnose, but now. Anyway, I am praying to find a way to get to the bottom. He hurts to cough, to move, tired all the time. just weak. Thank you for your prayers.

Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

A PET scan will give the doctors an idea of where the cancer may have spread. Perhaps they can address pain issues with palitive radiation if the cancer is pressing on nerves or causing other issues. A CAT scan (I'm guessing of the thoracic area) would tell the doctors how much the primary cancer has progressed. CAT scans are sort of like 3D X-rays and give a really clear view of the organs and bones. PET scans show the whole body and the cancer shows up like bright fuzzy spots. Which is better depends on the questions the doctor has. I had a PET/CAT scan done at a center with a machine that did both at once--something offered at the large university hospital I decided to go to but not at my hometown hospital. I'm not sure if that saved much time, but at least I only had to go to the hospital once.

I hope they can help your husband feel better no matter what tests they order. If the doctor you have cannot determine an effective pain remedy, consider asking for a consultation with a pain specialist. Good luck!

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