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Why no PET scan?

Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2012

My Dad was just diagnosed with gastroesophageal cancer. His tumor is about 2.5 cm and in the lower third esophagus. What we do know is his liver is involved and lungs but no PET scan was ordered. If he had cancer in any other areas would the CT scan pick it up? He started chemo Tuesday but why no PET scan? Is that not needed since he's already at stage 4 :-(


stephikindred's picture
Posts: 153
Joined: Mar 2012

Hi Melody,
If they did not do a PET scan, how did they find that his liver and lungs are involved? The first PET scan my mom had only showed the cancer in her esophagus. Then she had a battery of tests: laparoscopy, endoscopic ultrasound, bronchoscopy, etc. and all these tests led us to believe she was stage 3 because they could not find cancer elsewhere. After all these tests, they did one more PET scan, and that is when it showed the mets to the bone (scapula and tibia). Now one thing the doctors warned us about with the PET scan, it costs somewhere upwards of $3,000 for each scan so we had to wait for insurance approval. But you would think the doctors would be all for promoting PET scans. So far my mom has had three; the last one after her chemo treatments started, which was just last week. The PET scan was ordered to determine how well the chemo is working. She had mild reduction in the size of her esophageal tumor, but the doctor could not interpret the bone lesions so we may have to wait for our next visit to get more definitive answers there. Monday begins her next series of chemo treatments.

BobHaze's picture
Posts: 162
Joined: Sep 2011

For what it's worth, after my surgery my surgeon said he would order a CT scan every 6 months, then every year, etc. I asked if he would order a PET scan and he said No, only if the CT scan showed something. He said the PET is expensive and he considers them unnecessary unless, like I said, the CT shows something hot.

dx 8/3/11
MIE 9/23/11

stephikindred's picture
Posts: 153
Joined: Mar 2012

Good point, I think it depends on the stage. I have reviewed the PET scans with the doctors and they are really amazing. You scroll down through the entire body starting with the head and working your way down on a computer and see everything and I mean EVERYTHING, including the brain. If there is spread, there is a good chance the PET scan will show it. Actually, when they saw the mets to the bone, they still wanted a MRI as confirmation which she was petrified of because she is claustrophobic, but she was able to endure that and it confirmed our worst fears. I am not sure about the CT scan, but the doctors told us the PET scan shows even more than the CT scan, so I'm glad the insurance approved it.

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