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Xray NOT a good test for CANCER....


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Hi All-

I just had to share this..I went to the doctor for a physical last week. I started training for a marathon and am turning 40 next year and wanted to havea baseline as to how much my health improves with this training.

Anyway, I told my doc my moms history and that my paternal grandma had LC and that I wanted a chest Xray....

he said...'you have a cough'

I said no, 'i do not have a cough'

he says again...'melissa you have a cough'

I say nope no cough just want an xray cause my mom never had a cough either and still has LC

Doc proceeds to tell me that without a cough or some symptom my insurance will not pay for an xray at a routine physical....

WHAT!!!! They take money from me twice a month and I cannot get a 75$ Xray that could save my life!!!!I tell him that is crazy and he tells me that there is no clinical evidence that yearly xrays help in survival or detection of lung cancer..WHAATTT!!!!

I was amazed and enraged! what exactly is good for detection anyway!!!!

I fained a cough and got my xray!!!



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I had an x-ray less than a year before an x-ray found a cloud - there was nothing on it. I had an x-ray when the cancer may not have spread to the lymph nodes - there was nothing on it. An x-ray is NOT a way to find early lung cancer. You should have feigned something more and gotten a CT scan.

One thing to remember, though, is that radiation to the chest (x-ray, CT, etc.) can cause cancer. Don't be so scared that you cause it to grow just by trying to rule it out...

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A CT scan is the best to get and some places have newer equipment that is better than the older. One is called a spiro CAT scan. My daughter had a scan because of family history, myself and my dad. Had no problem with the insurance. Sounds like your doc could be a little more cooperative.

Stay positive,


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I would not hurt to get a chest Xray, as they have found tumors when people have pre-admissions testing before having an operation.

They found Joels, as he hurt his back and found his through an Xray, It was an early stage but it was big so it showed up.

But of course a CT is definetely the way to go. But just saying a chest Xray cannot hurt. It saved Joel's life.

Maryanne :wink:

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The chest x-ray will only pick up a tumor 15% of the time. It did not pick up my mother's, even at it's latest stage. EARLY detection is key. If you are a person at risk, I would recommend a low dose radiation spiral CT Scan. I looked at X-rays and CT Scans my mother took with the Dr. Dr. could not see anything on the xray and as clear as day could see on the CT Scan.

On insurance...the insurnace cos will only cover what is deemed protocol by the ACS or the NCI, and CT Scans are not.

I hate to demonize insurance, as the fact is, it is a good thing, but we are obsessed as a society that every and anything we want should be covered by insurance. If something is not covered, we have a choice. Pay or potentially pay with our health.

I just don't like that if it is not covered the doctors don't consider educating, informing and then giving you the choice to pay for something once you weight the risk/reward.

That's my gripe!

But for you personally Melissa, I don't know your personal or your families personal history. My mother died of Lung Cancer. She smoked for many years, I never have. I am technically "more at risk" than I was because I now have a family history, but am not an "at risk person" to the point where I would need annual CT Scans. If your family members who had LC were never smokers, pay for it! If they were and you are pay for it! If they were and you weren't...weigh the cost benefit.

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A chest x-ray did pick up my early stage mass. It was not there two years prior, and they were able to compare the two. I think that may be the key. If they have a film then they can compare a new one and look for changes.

Until this year, my chest surgeon only did a chest x-ray for my follow-up. They've changed their procedures now and I'll be getting a CT, but remember, a CT has a lot more radiation exposure than a chest x-ray, and you need an IV for contrast, which has become kind of a deal for me with the fried veins from chemo.

I think a chest x-ray is a good place to start.


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A lot depends on the quality of the chest xray and where you go I recently learned.

My dad's tumor was 1.4cm at diagnosis. Turns out it was there but small on his June chest xray. The radiologist who read it said negative, but the pulmo looked at it and it was there, although the film was dark.

The pulmo also looked at the film the year before and was disgusted b/c the quality of film was horrible and he said nothing could be seen. It was done at a rinky-dinky place.

Of course a chest ct-scan is the safest bet. I should get one sometime. I think I am scared b/c I had infiltrates they followed in the past. The consensus for me is next year since I had 3 of them in 2002.

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I think it also depends on who is looking at the x-ray. In my case, my x-ray was given close attention because of my 'history' of breast cancer and the potential of mets.

After my lobectomy, my surgeon always read the x-rays himself, and even with the CT, he looks at the films himself and gives me his interpretation, and not that of the radiologist.

I was perfectly comfortable with the x-ray at follow-up because he was reading the film, and because he had at least a dozen previous to compare it with.

I am a little concerned with the extra radiation that I get from the CT because of the 33 hits of radiation I took to the chest for breast cancer treatment.

I don't know for sure how much more you get from a CT than an Xray, but I know I read some numbers in CURE magazine once that said you get about 3 years worth of just walking around radiation every time you get a CT scan and the amount of radiation you get from a chest Xray was a far smaller amount, something like days, I just don't remember anymore for sure, but it did make an impression on me.

It doesn't matter, I will get the CT every year like my surgeon recommended. It's just a big project to get that needle threaded for the contrast.


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Ken's tumor was found on a routine x-ray. The scary thing is that he had an x-ray taken 6 weeks prior at another facility and you could not see the tumor on that one. He had a very small tumor on dx, an even smaller one in the liver, so he was stage IV.

I have started yearly CT scanning myself. The technicians are always confused, I guess not many people are doing this yet. The cost is worth the peace of mind. After all, I smoked almost as long as Ken did and there is a lot of cancer on my fathers side of the family. I know first hand how important it is to find LC at the earliest possible time.

Karen H

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Although the detail in an x-ray is not comparable to that of a CT scan, it does a great job detecting fluid in the chest cavity, and that was the first dependable evidence that something was happening with my right lung. My previous complaints of fatigue and loss of stamina (no shortness of breath yet) were attributed variously to age, Meniere's Disease, and other obscure causes, with lots of blood tests along the way. I'm now convinced that a pleural effusion had been building up in my chest for months or even more than a year, and that a simple x-ray the previous year would have shown something starting to happen.



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Mine were not seen on chest xray, taken only two weeks prior to my CT scan, which showed, at the time, 4 nodules. The largest was 1 x .7 cm.

You may opt for CT w/o contrast. I have allergies to the iodinated contrast, so mine are done without. Personally, I wouldn't trust chest xray for lesions smaller than 1cm.

Good Luck! Insist on what you KNOW is best for you!

Yours in HOPE!!!


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