There are lots of different diagnostic tests including blood tests, mammograms, ultra sounds, PET, CT, and MRI scans, biopsies, etc. Which ones you will have depends on your oncologist and your particular cancer.
Invasive (Infiltrating) Ductal Carcinoma Questions
Asked by jojosmom on Sunday, January 27, 2013
I am presently doing chemo and then radiation. What tests or how do the dr's check to see if the cancer is gone ? My oncologist said they really don't know, they monitor my blood work. Is that all? Thanks. I see her tomorrow for chemo.
10 Answers from the Community
My onc does tumor markers, physical and good history....he did this during chemo and continues to do so during follow visits....he does not do any scans unless patient request them or patient is symptomatic.....
I had bilat first with axillary dissection so I assume that the cancer was gone when they did the bilat....and chemo was to get anything that might have been behind.....
Different docs do different things.....
In my case, I have had PET scans after getting chemo for a while. Unfortunately, more cancer has shown up with mets to many areas, including my brain and worsening right hip mets. But, the MRIs and PET scans have revealed new or worsening lesions, after which further treatment has been indicated. Bloodwork is also monitored.
My understanding of the standard of care for breast cancer is no scans unless symptoms of possible metastatic disease have arisen. If you have breast tissue at the completion of treatment, you'll have mammograms and/or MRIs on a schedule determined by you and your health care team. The details depend on what treatment you had (bilateral mastectomy means not a single mammogram - ever), the type of cancer you had (hormone positive versus negative, her2 status, etc...), and whether there was evidence for cancer outside the breast (e.g., nodes or in distant locations).
Sounds like your health care team will monitor markers in your blood.
For me, I had triple negative breast cancer, which means there are no good markers that can be measured in my blood. In addition, I had a bilateral mastectomy, so no mammograms nor breast MRIs for me. Finally, I had no evidence of metastatic disease, so no scans are warranted.
I did have some pretty serious rib pain a while back, and my onco gave me a physical exam and concluded that I had simply overused some muscles and ended up with inflammation at the boundary between bone and cartilidge. In order to be doubly sure, he ordered up a chest x-ray, which came back with no abnormalities. If something abnormal had come up, he said he would have sent me off for a PET/CT scan....
I've been told that the general rule is two weeks. If a new pain comes up and does not resolve within two weeks, then I am supposed to contact my health care team. They will then see me and proceed as warranted.
My follow-up care is a physical exam every three months. I'm coming up on one year since finishing the last step of treatment... At first, I felt a little... lonely? Abandoned? Like surely SOMETHING should be done? But no... There is absolutely no evidence that scans improve outcomes when metastatic disease occurs, and there is evidence that too many scans can cause harm.
So, I get to see one of those three people every three months...
I hope that helps.
At the end of the day, it's important that you understand the plan and have all your questions answered.
I wish you the most effective chemo with minimal side effects!
Lee has given you an excellent answer!!
My Oncologist monitors my blood work at each visit (every 3 months at first)). Bone Scan and CT Scan are done at 1-1/2 to 2 year period. She recommends the staggering of my appointments with her, the surgeon and my medical doctor so that I am seeing someone every few months -- at which time lymph nodes are checked for swelling, etc. I understand that my job is to stay on guard but not give in to paranoia. I wish you the best in your battle.
My oncologist wanted a CT scan after I finished treatment. After that, at six months, he wanted blood work and a chest xray. Although the breast surgeon thinks he's a little "scan happy," I want him to be aggressive. He tries to abide by what insurance allows but if I have any complaints, he will investigate. Other ladies I've talked to get one scan a year after their treatment. Maybe it varies by your doctor. Complete blood work precedes all appointments with him, though.
I had bilat so no mammos for me. After chemo, I had a CT scan of my abdomen and pelvis and an MRI of ym brain. Those were clear. Now I have blood work and physical exam every 2 months. If I have any pain that lasts more than a week or so, I am supposed to call my onc or my PCP. If I feel anything "werid" or something seems "off" I can also call onc or PCP for follow up. One of the key things in all of this, is to know your own body so you know if anything changes or doesn't seem right to you.
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