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Chest X-ray vs CT scan

Shelley (MLC)

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Hi everyone. I know this has been talked about in the past, but I couldn't find the info easily with the search so..... My mom just finished her first round of chemo (6 cycles of carbo/gemzar) Her oncologist is going to give her a break from chemo as everything looked stable on the CT. He is planning to do monthly chest X-Rays and a CT every 3 moths to watch for progression. Obviously, I would feel better with monthly CTs. Is this just an insurance issue, can I just request monthly CTs instead, or does it really not matter. Thanks! Shelley

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Honestly it does matter but good luck getting any insurance to cover monthly CT. I believe insurance companies are brutal they do not care the reason they only care the cost. I think by her having monthly chest x-rays and 3 month CT that it is an appropriate protocol for the Dr to suggest because that does sound reasonable. Hope this helps. Many love and prayers for your mom

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I think the normal protocol would be for 3 month intervals for whatever they do, whether it be CT scans or X-rays.

My impression is that a CT every month would be excessive and the chest x-ray every month is more than enough.

Keep in mind that when they do a chest x-ray, they now have others from the past to look at to compare and note any possible changes.

Also, a CT is not a hard test, but it's not that great either. You have to fast beforehand, and then with the contrast you need an iv which can be difficult if your veins are fried from chemo. Then, the contrast can be damaging to your kidneys, so you have to make sure you drink a lot of water following the test.

Now, none of this is a really big deal, except that when patients have been put through so much with this disease, why bombard them with more procedures than they need?

I find that now that I have to have CT scans for follow-up, my stress level is much, much higher than it was when I just had a chest x-ray.

Just my thoughts, for what they're worth.


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Thanks everyone. Of course my mom who is very claustrophobic, is very happy to be having x-rays instead of CTs each month. I'm glad to hear that every 3 months is the norm.

Cindy, you raise some good points. I'm sure my mom would agree with you. I think it's that I feel things were missed last year in the months before she was diagnosed, and I don't want that to happen again (not on my watch!)

Susan, yes, my mom is thrilled with the time off. The break will be at the perfect time, as we are all descending on her in 2 weeks. That means her 5 children, spouses and 12 grandchildren. (Only my brother and his family will be staying at the house with her)...It will be a wonderful time for all of us and I am thrilled that she is feeling so well. Shelley

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the other reason for a 3 month interval between CTs is that if the disease is progressing at a higher/slower rate the difference in a monthly CT would be negligable (barely there). where as spaced 3 months apart when you do a comparasion of the 2 different films you will see a marked difference one way or another or none at all.... its like looking at you own kids growing ..you know they are growing but since you see them everyday you dont really notice that much... but if you look at a picture from kindergarten then a picture from first grade you see all the differences that happened that year.

the reason for the monthly Xray is to catch anything that multiplies extremely fast or deteriorates all of a sudden.... which will show up on a Xray... if that were to happen then you can be sure that a CT will be ordered immeadiatly.

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I think it is because the doubling time for cancer is over 1 month that a scans are not given every month. Maybe at least two months.

Since CTs only have a certain resolution it won't help doing scans too often.

Also for younger patients the radiation exposure may be an issue.

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