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Could PET Scan show False Positives?

Posts: 64
Joined: Apr 2011


I wanted to ask for help again.

My mother is 87 years old and has stage 4 esophageal cancer (the cancer has spread near her lungs and tranchea).

She received chemotherapy for over a year.

Over the past year and a half, she was given a few PET Scans. Each of the PET Scans showed that the cancer was not spreading, and one of the PET Scans showed that the cancer had shrunk slightly.

Since the chemo was making her very ill, she decided to stop chemo.

However, she underwent 3 weeks of radiation since she was having problems swallowing.

She had another PET Scan done on May 30 to assess the effect of the radiation.

By the time this PET Scan was done, it had been exactly 3 months and 22 days that she had stopped chemo. Yet, thank God, the PET Scan showed that the cancer outside the esophagus had not spread any further.

We are therefore hoping and praying that the cancer has not spread outside the esophagus. We are hoping that the several PET Scans she had over the past year that showed that portions outside her esophagus lit up was due to infections and inflammation rather than cancer. (I read on the internet that false positives are possible).

At this time, it’s been 4 months and 45 days that she stopped chemo and, although her health isn’t any better, it also isn’t any worse. That also gives me hope that maybe the cancer has not really spread.

Is it possible that the cancer has not actually spread outside the esophagus? Or am I just dreaming?

I would greatly appreciate hearing any thoughts or advice.

Thank you very much for your kind assistance.


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Posts: 64
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank you very much, Sherri. I was hoping that the cancer had not spread and the PET Scans showed false positives. However, what you say makes sense.

Thank you once again for taking time to respond to my question. I very much appreciate your help.


mardigras's picture
Posts: 210
Joined: Sep 2011

Hello Tom,
I'm so sorry that you find yourself here although I wish you welcome to our family.
I don't know about 'false positives' and to be honest, Sherri has, I would say, more knowledge than anyone on this site. Also William will probably step in a bit later and he too has a wealth of information and knowledge.
For myself, I am a just a carer, but i'll pray for your Mum and for you too.
My Mum died two weeks ago and believe me she was very precious to me.

Matthew 18:19-20
"I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
I will pray that the cancer does not spread and that her health does not get any worse.

Stay with us Tom, we are all in this together and you will find some positives here to go along with the negatives. The news isn't always what you didn't want to hear, but it is alway honest.
Bless you both,
Hugs and prayers,

Posts: 64
Joined: Apr 2011

Thank you so much, Marci, for your kind words and prayers.

I'm so sorry that your mom passed away recently. I'm sure you must know how I feel given what you've gone through.

Sherri certainly is very knowledgeable and her advise is always helpful.

Thank you once again for your thoughts and prayers. I deeply appreciate it.


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