Post-treatment Scanning

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Post-treatment Scanning

by Njmae on Fri May 11, 2018 11:27 PM

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Hi, I just had my 18-month post-treatment CT scan which thankfully was clear. I had a PET-CT at 3 months and 6 months, then a CT at 12 months post-treatment. Then this last CT at 18 months. Today, after just seeing the doctor last week, I received in the mail an order for a CT scan in September, which is four months from now and on the 2-year anniversary of my diagnosis. I was kind of surprised (perhaps alarmed) and re-read the report. It is perfectly normal. Is a scan on the 2-year anniversary of the start of treatment par for the course? Is there a typical schedule or is it varied? Any input would be appreciated very much!

RE: Post-treatment Scanning

by atcbugsy on Sat May 12, 2018 10:04 AM

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Hiya Njmae,

Congratulations on your scans being clear!  The first year post treatment I was getting CT Scans every three months.  These past 2 1/2  years have been every six months.  My most recent scan was in March, 2018 and I'll get (hopefully) my last scan in March, 2019.  My Oncologist said if the scan in 2019 is clear, I'm done with annual scans.  If I remember correctly, one has to be five years out to be declared Cancer free.

Five years out and I still get anxious about it.  I don't think that ever goes away.

Congratulations again on your reports.  Best of luck.

Bugsy

RE: Post-treatment Scanning

by Sdurnell on Sat May 12, 2018 08:22 PM

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Doctors do vay quite a bit in their orders for post-treatment scans.  I had my first at 4 months, then gradually reduced it to every 6 months, and in the end yearly exams, alternating between CT and CT/PET scans until I was 5 years out, at which point I was told I was cured and needn't worry about it anymore.

Other doctors only check for two years, which may be what your doctor is doing.  It is rare for a recurrence to happen after that time.  And still others continue to scan even after the five years.  It may also depend which doctor orders the scans. My ENT declared me cured after two years, but my radiation oncologist insisted I do scans for the full five years.

I was fortunate to have mine ordered by my radiation oncologist, who could then go over them with me the same afternoon.  Other doctors are not skilled at reading the images, so must wait until a radiologist has reviewed them.

Be sure to talk to the ordering physician about the schedule s/he has chosen for you and what it is based on.  That should set your mind at ease.

Susan

RE: Post-treatment Scanning

by Njmae on Sat May 12, 2018 09:25 PM

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Susan, Thank you. The radiation oncologist reviewed the last ones an hour after they were taken - the ENT will wait until the report is generated. In my appointment, the radiation oncologist said they consider the anniversary (if you will!) to start at the time of diagnosis, which would place this scan at two years exactly. He said two years after diagnosis is significant. Of course I had the swollen lymph node for three years prior! They are still perplexed at that but maybe I should consider myself a five-year survivor! Indeed heartening. Susan, I think of what you have said in the past, about looking forward to the scans - an all clear is great, but if not, you are closer to getting it fixed and moving on with your life. It is hard for me to do that, but I do think your perspective on scans is a healthy one. Thanks for all your replies, this one and those in the past!

RE: Post-treatment Scanning

by Sdurnell on Mon May 14, 2018 04:26 AM

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The two-year mark is indeed very important, and I remember that it was two years from diagnosis.  This factors in completing treatment within a prescribed window of time as well.  So it is actually less than two years after treatment, but two years after a positive biopsy.

Nice to hear that your RO is kind enough to do same-day reporting to you like mine does.  I can't understand why it's not more common, but it may be because sometimes it's not the RO who orders the scan.

All the best to you--I hope your good fortune continues!

Susan

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