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Concerning CT results and edema?


I'm not really sure where to post this.

July/August 2021- My back started to hurt mildly off and on. Over the next few months the pain level increased and became more frequent.

November 2021- I started to worry about bone mets. I called onc who told me to see GP. So I went to GP who did an xray, which was "normal", and prescribed a pain med and muscle relaxer. I took it for a few days, but it didn't really help and I'm not big on taking meds, so I just lived with the discomfort.

January 2022- Thought I felt a firm area in the remaining tissue of my "breast" in the area of my original tumor. Let it go for a few weeks until I decided I should ask onc if I could wait for next check up or if I should be seen. Onc had me come in to the office.

February 2022- Saw onc. They always ask about pain and my back was hurting that day and I mentioned it. So onc did a breast exam. She didn't feel what I did, but ordered a mammogram and ultrasound, as well as an MRI on my thoracic spine.

March 2022- The mammogram and ultrasound were fine. Nothing of any concern was seen anywhere. The MRI was normal in the thoracic spine, however, showed a paratracheal mediastinal mass. I had one back in 2016 during my original cancer treatment that was removed, so it was strange that there was a new one, so onc ordered a chest CT. The chest CT showed the mass is a likely benign pericardial cyst. But it showed two other findings, "sclerotic lesion on left medial clavicular head concerning for metastatic disease" and "edema of unknown etiology in abdominal musculature and about low back".

Questions: does "concerning" for metastatic disease mean it's likely that it's metastatic or would there be any chance that it's not metastatic? As for the edema, I googled to see what it meant and all I could find was about ascites, which I had never heard of. When I read about the symptoms, I kind of started to worry. I have been feeling nauseated occasionally when I've eaten barely more than just a snack or after drinking more than a few sips at a time. My belly always feels bloated and firm, like it's full of gas, but not relieved by passing gas. Is this what ascites feels like? Would this mean there could be liver mets too?

My case is going to the tumor board on Tuesday. My oncologist is not really giving me any information. She is not sure if she's sending me down an imaging rabbit hole for no reason. She doesn't know if I should have a PET-CT and/or biopsy, hence the tumor board. Meanwhile, my mind is going to all the what-ifs and worse case scenarios. Anyone have any advice or information?


  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    edited April 2022

    Concerning means they can't say exactly what it is but suspect it could be mets. I'm surprised to be honest, that she's being so cautious. I would expect to be headed straight for the CT/PET and biopsy. What is she waiting for?

    Many cancer-related symptoms can also be signs of something else but with our medical history, they usually try to rule out cancer first. Any time I had a new suspicious symptom that lasted for more than a couple weeks I let my doctors know, even if it didn't seem very cancer-y. They always took it seriously even when I didn't. The first sign of my recurrence was very mild shortness of breath, so mild I felt silly even mentioning it. But they sent me straight to get an xray!

  • rambros
    rambros Member Posts: 17
    edited April 2022

    I had a CT scan in 2019 which also mentioned a single sclerotic lesion (on my spine). I then had a nuclear bone scan and spine MRI which found no concerns so it's very possible yours is nothing to be concerned about. I was a nervous wreck though waiting for additional scans. My onc told me this can be the problem with scanning a cancer survivor- they report every minor thing they see so it all gets investigated further. She said every scan begets another scan and that was really true for me. She also said that the fact that there is only one concerning spot is a good sign - not impossible but unlikely that you'd happen to scan and find such minimal Mets. And if you do find Mets when it's just one spot you can be aggressive with treatment. Best of luck to you that it's nothing