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Question for SCLC folks


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I'm not usually in this area as my hubby has NSCLC, but my friend has SCLC. I'm curious as to the types of tests done during the course of chemotherapy to judge how the cancer is progressing or shrinking. We have both PET & CAT scans done regularly. My friend only has CAT scans & bone scans and next test she has to drink barium (?) for an abdominal scan.

I guess my question is why don't they use PET scans for SCLC (or maybe they do and it is an insurance issue!) What kinds of testing do you folks have for your SCLC? (Oops, that's two questions) :)

Thanks for any info. I'm just trying to understand as the two cancers are like apples and oranges.


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So sorry about your friend, but having gone thru alot with my husbands' sclc, I hope I can answer a few ?'s

The CT is good in detecting any areas, and are very good at determining size and location.

The PET generally as you know looks for all other regions, and if there are any sc then they would "light up". I know that you are all too familar w/ this as well.

What I can also tell you about PET and insurance, that typically insurance will pay for the first PET for an orginal diagnosis. It is getting subsequent PETs that her onc. will have to word it in such as way to get any further. I know that in my husbands' case he has had 2 Pets so far, plenty of CAT and MRI's.

Small Cell is a very fast moving, agressive type of cancer, so depending on if it is limited or extensive will determine how many or few tests need to be run. I wish your friend all the best of luck and health with this.


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Well, I can't speak for everyone, but for our case the PET scan was an insurance issue. My parents are on Medicare, and Medicare does not pay for PET scans. We were told at Mayo clinic that a brain scan and a bone scan were sufficient and would tell them what they needed to know, aside from a CT, of course. They say that SCLC likes to run and hide, first to the brain or bones, and therefore,they like to check those first.

Throughout the chemo they have done little testing, aside from a CT prior to the start of radiation, and weekly blood draws for count information.

Best of luck to your friend.


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Sorry about your husband and friend.

Well I have ins and medicare as a secondary so I have no problems with getting the med bills paid.

I got the CT, PET and bone scan done at the beginning. Then during the chemo I got a CT to see that the chemo was working. During my remission periods I got a CT of chest and abd and blood work-cbc, chem profile and a cholesterol-ldh ( it increases with an increase of sclc-weird!) done every 3-4 months. Now that it has been 2 yrs since any signs of the cancer I get a CXR and bld work 3 months then 3 months later a CT and the bld work. I also have had a bone scan done this last spring-lots of bone/joint pain-so they ruled out mets to the bone.

The Dr is afraid the radiation from the CT may cause problems since I have had so many.

PET scans are done as a norm at the beginning, MRI's are done for checking for mets to the brain. I have had 2 since 2001, I had headaches and some vision changes, thank God there was nothing there. :shock:

Hope this helps.


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Thanks for the info. I really appreciated the clarification. I think it is just the protocol that our Doctor uses for hubby's NSCLC re: PET scans.

Ztweb, fyi, my husband is on Medicare and we get PET's & CAT's done every three months.

I think the "run and hide" info is very telling as to the difference between what we have scanned/tested and what my girlfriend has done. Very interesting the differences in how the two LC manifest themselves.

Thanks again folks.

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