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Scans after Treatment

Mariett Member Posts: 9

I finished my chemo and radiation in August 2019. I had one CT scan in January 2020 to check on a lung nodule that turned out to be fine but that is it. I just wanted to know if everyone else gets scans every year. I know having a CT would expose me to more radiation, but I don't know why they wouldn't do an MRI once a year.


  • mkestrel
    mkestrel Member Posts: 164
    edited September 2022

    Ask your doctor, but I will tell my experience. It is apparently not the protocol and insurance companies don't want to pay for it. Scans are not done after early stage treatment until there are concerning symptoms. They say more scans won't change the outcome, expose to excess radiation, and if course aren't absolute guarantees.

    In my case, scans weren't done until the metastatic tumor completely destroyed a vertebrae and caused permanent spinal cord damage. I had emergent surgery for spinal cord compression. An earlier scan would have detected the metastatic tumor before it caused the nerve damage that caused half numb legs and feet so I have trouble walking and a lot of other things. I mentioned my back ache and muscle cramps to them earlier but I was also running 3 miles a day and doing HIIT exercises. It was also 2020.

    No, more scans wouldn't change the diagnosis but improved treatment for metastatic cancer means we are living longer and quality of life matters. Plus I have to keep working full time to keep health insurance. Now that it's too late, they scan me every six months...

    I'm not trying to freak you or anyone out but I feel like my experience should be told because it might help someone else get worked up earlier. I don't feel like female symptoms, especially not back aches, are taken very seriously. That causes delays. Then insurance denies things and causes more delays.

    The reality is a certain percentage have metastatic recurrence no matter what treatment we did. You are right to have concerns. Try not to let it freak you out 24/7 but pay close attention to symptoms like a back ache that doesn't go away and tell your doctors.

  • parakeetsrule
    parakeetsrule Member Posts: 605
    edited September 2022
    I had a mammogram every year but only did other scans when I had suspicious symptoms.
  • brinkofeternity
    brinkofeternity Member Posts: 181
    edited September 2022

    I have mammogram every year but even my initial tumors didn’t show because of my extremely dense breasts, so I think they’re practically useless.

    I asked my OBGYN to schedule ultrasound on my remaining breast every year since ultrasound did find my initial tumors.

    I also mentioned to a survivorship nurse how much mammograms are meaningless for me and she scheduled a breast MRI. Since then I’ve had to do some biopsies due to false positives, but I have no regrets.

    My MO believes my MRI shouldn’t have been scheduled to begin with as I’ve had to have unnecessary follow-up MRIs and biopsies since then. But I’m the one getting biopsies and paying the deductibles, and I’m not complaining.

  • exbrnxgrl
    exbrnxgrl Member Posts: 4,955
    edited September 2022

    The vast majority of early stage patients do no receive routine scanning for metastases. Scans are usually ordered if a patient has symptoms that might be mets. Routine scanning is hideously expensive (about $5,000. for a PET), exposes one to lots of radiation and is usually not covered by insurance since it’s not standard of care. Only about 6% of new bc cases are stage IV de novo.