• How can my oncologist tell me I am cancer free? I did have surgery, radiation and chemo, but he has done no kinds a scans at all.

    Asked by sjjohnson1 on Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    How can my oncologist tell me I am cancer free? I did have surgery, radiation and chemo, but he has done no kinds a scans at all.

    15 Answers from the Community

    15 answers
    • daca1964's Avatar

      Most oncologist do blood work every 3 months and they can tell from that if there is anything going on. If not your good if something shows up they will get the proper test done like CatScans or what every else they need to do. You have to trust your oncologist he/she has you life in their hands. Good Luck

      over 8 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      Are you getting blood tests? They test for tumor markers, that tells them if they need to check more closely. Ask your Onc or the nurse your questions! It is so frightening when we are not being checked so often, but you will be checked closer than the average person. Here is a site I really rely on: www.breastcancer.org. I hope this helps. Good luck & try hard to remain positive and live in the moment. This was my 2nd cancer. I am 2 years out from treatment. When I get scared, I try to push those thoughts away fast. Hang in there!

      over 8 years ago
    • ticklingcancer's Avatar

      He's probably basing this on the tumor marker tests done with your blood work. I would personally feel more comfortable if my Oncologist told me this after a scan. You should make him aware of your concerns. After all, he's working for you!!

      over 8 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      He can't, whether he does the scans or not. There are no scans that can detect individual scattered cancer cells. Oncologist don't use the term cancer free, but rather no evidence of disease, meaning your pathology report showed clean margins after surgery.

      over 8 years ago
    • Gena's Avatar

      Don't rely on blood tests. I had Stage I breast cancer 7 years ago. Had lumpectomy, chemo and radiation. After treatment was told I was good to go, but no scans were done. Every check up we went by blood work which was normal. I noticed a lump in my neck 3 1/2 years ago. My cancer had returned, even though blood work was fine. PET scan showed tumors in bone, liver and neck. So much for blood tests. I would ask for a scan.

      over 8 years ago
    • IKickedIt's Avatar

      Do not rely strictly on blood work. There is a cancer marker, CEA, that may detect cancer, but not everyone produces CEA. My CEA level was 1.1 before my tumor was removed and 1.2 after I finished chemo. My oncologist still does blood work and checks my CEA levels, but I have to go for a PET scan once a year and a colonoscopy every other.

      over 8 years ago
    • Harry's Avatar

      By "no scans" do you mean no X-rays etc. or has he also done no blood work? As others have pointed out, oncologists use blood tests to detect cancer. Personally, I would be very reluctant to get an X-ray if it wasn't medically necessary. In fact, I would refuse any X-ray that wasn't absolutely necessary. You've already had a bout with cancer. You want to avoid a repeat.

      You may need to be more explicit in voicing your concerns to your oncologist and staff. This may be routine to them, but it isn't to you. You want an explanation of what he bases his conclusion on. The answer may revolve around blood markers with strange names, but there's no reason why he can't tell you them. Write down his explanation and get the correct spelling for anything strange. You may want that information in the future.

      over 8 years ago
    • JudyW's Avatar

      The hepatic function blood test every three months is what my oncologist uses. Also, one year post-surgery, I had a breast MRI done, which (thank God!) was clear. The radiologist recommends the MRI once a year since, obviously with a double mastectomy, I can't have a mammogram.

      over 8 years ago
    • ruthieq's Avatar

      If from surgery they got clean margins and you did chemo because of the type of cancer you had, then rads. He/she could reasonable be sure they got it all. However I would ask for at least a CT scan or a Pet CT to be sure...

      over 8 years ago
    • bigladylw79's Avatar

      I personally would ask for a CT scan. My doctor told me after my total hysterectomy I am cancer free. That happened in February this year. He recommended I go through radiation and chemotherapy because that cancer might have spread to my lymph nodes. Well because of my weight the hospital was unable to do radiation. I had 5 chemo treatments of Carboplatin and Taxol. In the week I was to have my last treatment I went to the hospital in great pain in my back and pelvis. They sent me for a CT scan thinking it was my gall bladder or appendix. They found my cancer had spread to lymph nodes in my back and pelvis. I went to the same oncologist that performed my hysterectomy and he said there was nothing they can do. Ask for A CT scan.

      over 8 years ago
    • Judit's Avatar

      My drs told me, altho everything looks clean, no one can be certain if there is a little remnant left behind. Be vigilant!

      over 8 years ago
    • Crash's Avatar

      He can look at a body of data which shows how similar patients have responded to the same regimen of treatment you received and based on their outcomes he can say that you should have the same result. If it cured them....it cured you too. Not what you were looking for, but there it is.

      over 8 years ago
    • JMS's Avatar

      From what my two oncologists (chemo & radiation doctors) have told me, after I complete the final chemo round, they will wait approximately 2 months, then give me a full body CT scan (to look for any dark or active-looking areas of fast changing cells) and a PET scan (to look for brightly colored areas that would also indicate fast changing cells). The two scans will be overlaid and compared. The scans will be repeated on a quarterly basis. It's my understanding that following a couple of years of problem-free scans, the doctors can/will conclude that the patient is cancer-free (or not). Hope this helps.

      over 8 years ago
    • karen1956's Avatar

      My onc doesn't do any scans either (unless patient requests it or is symptomatic)...he does labs including tumor markers, a physical and health history at each appt......Based on that he has said I'm NED (no evidence of disease)....I think you will know if something is going on!!!

      over 8 years ago
    • Beaner54's Avatar

      I am with you....I had to ask for a CT scan which then led to a PET scan.
      findings showed a tumor in my colon. I had surgery 2 weeks ago. The tumor is Stage 2.
      Finished treatment for uterine cancer in July; had total hysterectomy, chemo and radiation.

      Not sure that tumor markers are a valid test for recurrence.

      over 8 years ago

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