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Hi, I had a mastectomy on my left breast 22nd November, had 24 lymph nodes removed 7 cancerous I went for my follow up appointment on 4th December, and I have to have a bone scan and a CT scan (CT scan had today 6th). This has me a little worried because I wasn't expecting anymore tests or scans. Just thought I would be seeing the oncologist to discuss my chemotherapy Is this just routine or do you think they may suspect something. I realise you don't know my situation but I didn't think it would be just routine.
Thanks for getting in touch with us.
It’s natural to worry when doctors suggest doing further scans. But it’s not uncommon for this to happen once doctors get more information about the stage of a cancer.
Scans such as bone and CT scans are not done routinely for everyone who has breast cancer. This is because research has shown that they very rarely diagnose cancer elsewhere if someone has no symptoms. However, doctors do often routinely recommend that they are done if someone’s cancer has some positive nodes or if they were telling them that they had symptoms such as pain or breathlessness that needed investigated. Some doctors use 4 and above nodes positive as their benchmark for requesting further scans. Others may request further scans if someone’s cancer was high grade and if they had 3 or above nodes positive. This is because people who have cancer in this group may be at a higher risk of their cancer having spread.
But having said this, this doesn’t mean that your cancer has spread. Most people who have further scans do not have evidence of cancer elsewhere. In fact, when I was a breast care nurse in my previous life I can honestly say that we rarely diagnosed someone with cancer elsewhere even if they had in their nodes.
Feel reassured the doctors are not asking for further scans because they suspect something. It’s because they want to rule out there is anything else.
Your doctor/nurse will appreciate that waiting for scan tests and results can cause anxiety. I’m sure they will be trying to get them done as quick as possible for you so that you can start your next treatment. So, don’t worry if you get a phone call with a date or you get a date in the next week or two.
Sometimes it can help to talk to others in a similar situation. I see you’ve already joined our breast cancer group on line and I’m sure if you posted your question there you will hear back from lots of people who have had further scans done routinely too.
If you think it would be helpful to do, you can still call our Support Line and talk to one of our nurses about how you’re feeling.
Best wishes and take care.
Please don’t hesitate to get back in touch with us and let us know how you get on.
Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.
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