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Are Lytic Lesions on CT Scans Always Cancer? Worried.

Posts: 8
Joined: Jan 2012

My mom who is an 11 year Stage 3 breast cancer survivor had an xray done for shoulder pain at the ER which was clear. A CT scan was ordered of the neck/chest/abdomen/pelvis because of her history and the results are suspicious for malignancy.

We are going stir crazy waiting for an appt. for biopsy and she has a bone scan scheduled for next week. In the mean time I was hoping someone could share some insight about her results:

#1- Lytic lesion right head of clavicle with soft tissue density. Invades prox. right sternocleidomastoid muscle and 2 other lytic lesions in right sacrum + illiac bone. Left sclerotic lesion.

#2- Mild non-specific lymphadenopathy

#3- 6x3mm oblong lung nodule

#4 -No source seen.


3 lytic lesions --> one in right clavicular head causing expansion and assoc. soft tissue density.

DDX: mets, myeloma, ? other?

Consider biopsy and bone scan.

SIROD's picture
Posts: 2199
Joined: Jun 2010

If your mother did not have a history of breast cancer then I would hope for a benign condition such arthritis. With her history it doesn't look good. I am certainly not an expert but I do have rib mets along with lungs, & pleura.

As suggested, a biopsy and the bone scan will certainly give you an answer. X-rays, and a ct scan with the same indication are usually pretty close to being on target. Though sometimes, they can be wrong.

I wish your mother and you the best of luck and hope it is some simple explanation that will set her mind and yours at ease.



Posts: 8
Joined: Jan 2012

Thank you Doris.

My confusion comes from the fact that her X-ray and blood were completely clear/normal and it was only the CT that these things turned up.

New Flower
Posts: 4299
Joined: Aug 2009

Sorry that your Mom is having these health issues and lytic lesions. It is my understanding that lytic lesion means the bone has a partial atpohpy and its structure has changed. I hope for a good outcome for your mother. As Doris I do have lytic lesions in my bones and I am 50. Mine were identified by PET/CT and bone scan, and I had to have a bone biopcy, which was not fun. I am not aware of using X-ray for cancer diagnosis. if you want to rule out mets & cancer ask for PET/CT in addition to bone scan
Please let us know about Mom's progress

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