• I have heard conflicting responses & wonder how often you are supposed to have the Total Body Scan to make sure you are clear of any

    Asked by Emory on Thursday, April 5, 2012

    I have heard conflicting responses & wonder how often you are supposed to have the Total Body Scan to make sure you are clear of any

    recurring cells??? My endo says not necessary every year & I haven't had on since last January !!!

    4 Answers from the Community

    4 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      I had a tonsil malignancy, I had scans every 6 months for 2 yrs. after that my oncologist says we wont do another unless there is a reason to look, like symptoms. It has been 3 years this past tuesday since my last radiation treatment.

      over 4 years ago
    • nancyjac's Avatar

      I've never heard/read of any instance where a full body scan is used as a diagnostic tool for recurrence of a localized cancer. The only reason for a full body scan is to look for metastasis to other parts of the body once a cancer has already been diagnosed.

      over 4 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      The research I have been reading is totally consistent with what your doc is saying.

      I personally do not want any extra radiation, unless I truly need it. We get scanned etc... and total X-ray exposure is something that is directly linked to increased cancer risk.

      I feel like, well... I got cancer once... So I want to minimize the possibility of getting cancer again. So, if the radiation associated with a full body scan is not necessary, then I don't want it.

      My doc said, if I get a new symptom... give it two full weeks... if it doesn't resolve, get in to see him. New symptoms would be like weird bone pain or back pain or gut pain... etc...

      As an athlete - I think I'm going to have to start keeping a journal because... well... stuff hurts when I push my limits. And i'm going to try to be mindful about not jumping to the doc office with every little thing, which, I am told, is common...

      Hope that helps. Basically, there are some cancers for which body scans make some sense... Monitoring mets also seems to call for body scans. But, in a person with localized cancer and a good response after treatment... It seems commonly prudent to skip full body scans, based on what I'm reading (I tend to comb the scientific literature on this stuff).

      If you feel like you have questions about those decisions, ask your doc to carefully and patiently explain it to you. At the end of the day, these decisions should not seem mysterious. The motivation, in my opinion, should be clear to the patient... I've been really lucky so far in that my oncologists are patient and willing to take as much time as needed to fully answer my questions. PLUS - they get back to me by email (which I limit to no more than about 2 or 3 per month - less, now that I'm in the good prognosis post-treatment phase).

      Best wishes,

      over 4 years ago
    • leepenn's Avatar

      PS - the resolution limit is also another reason to NOT try to use a scan to detect "recurring cells" - if the cell clusters are small, they'll not show up... Small being smaller than about one millimeter in diameter.... At least, that is my understanding of the PET/CT technique.

      over 4 years ago

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