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Cancer scan - called into Oncology unit for results - bad sign??

(31 Posts)
ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 09:40:26

Hi there, I have no experience of this so wondering if anyone has any advice. Also I'm living not in the UK (although did until recently, but not particularly au fait with NHS Oncology protocol).

My 69 yr old mum has mysteriously been losing weight for the past few months, probably lost a couple of stone. Her GP referred her for some scans (an endoscopy and a CT Scan) which she had a couple of weeks ago. She left the scans on the understanding that all was ok as far as they could tell at the time, and the hosp would only call her if something was wrong.

Anyway, I've just spoken to them and it appears that the Unit has had a cancellation and mum has been called in this morning.

I'm now 12,000 miles away thinking something is pretty bad. Is that the case? Does anyone know Oncology protocol - is there anyway they just want her in for a nice chat? <clutches straws>

I'm starting to fret so would welcome any advice . . .

TanteRose Thu 09-May-13 09:42:16

no idea, Claudia (as you know, I'm in forrin too)

but popped in to hold your hand smile

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 09:44:20

You are a darling Tante. Husband is working tonight and I'm feeling a bit weird. Obv not yet time to panic but my poor dad obviously thinks the worst and I'm really worried how they'd cope if she is ill.


TanteRose Thu 09-May-13 09:49:47


don't panic, Claudia!
do you have siblings/relatives who are closer to them in the UK?

CMOTDibbler Thu 09-May-13 09:50:42

One step at a time. Don't think ahead of the appointment.

Have a virtual hand, and some real chocolate in the meantime. What time is her appointment?

TanteRose Thu 09-May-13 09:51:49

oh yes, have a brew and some choc

CajaDeLaMemoria Thu 09-May-13 09:54:20

Yes, is there anybody nearby who could go with your mum?

Realistically, in most cases, being called into oncology will mean that further tests or treatment is needed. However, if she's only going in today because there has been a cancellation, that's a good sign.

From what you've said, it sounds more like they want to run further tests than that they'd be offering a diagnosis or treatment, because they told her it looked okay. It's likely that someone's had a look through the results and wants to confirm that everything is okay, or has seen something to look out for.

I wouldn't presume that this is something terrible, but if you can get someone (friendly neighbour? One of her friends?) to go with her, she'd probably appreciate the support, and you'll get a better idea of what's happening next. The oncology ward is a scary place, and it can be hard to take in what is being said.

All the best

sallysparrow157 Thu 09-May-13 10:01:10

If they have called her in due to a cancellation then that will probably just be sensible use of clinic time. If there was something really important to tell her they would have made her her own appointment rather than hoping someone would cancel so they could squeeze her in. On the other hand if they have something she needs to know about at some point and they happen to have an empty appointment slot, well, they may as well use it to see her in.
It's bloody horrible when you're worried about family who are so far away, it's bad enough being a few hours drive away as I am, several thousand miles is a damn long way to worry over! All the best to you and your mum

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 10:02:44

Thank you everyone. NO CHOCOLATE IN THE HOUSE damn damn damn!

I think the appointment is about 10 ish this morning. She will go along with dad, who is pretty good about this sort of thing.

I have 2 brothers in the UK but both are in London (my folks are about 2 hrs drive away) and both work - although could get time off if needed.

Thanks for your advice Caja, I'll go and give the kids a bath - it's nearly their bedtime here, and then do some more fretting.

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 10:04:02

Thanks so much for the support, it really means a lot flowers

gingeroots Thu 09-May-13 10:08:18

Claudia the
She left the scans on the understanding that all was ok as far as they could tell at the time, and the hosp would only call her if something was wrong

doesn't sound quite right ,though I guess hospitals vary .
Was anyone with your mum at the time ?

After the endoscopy they quite often the offer the sort of remark you quote but this wouldn't be the case with a CT scan.

The staff doing CT scanning wouldn't pass any comment whatsever about what they'd seen . The scans have to be interpreted and the info is fed back at meeting with the patient and someone more senior .

I honestly don't want to scaremonger and it's only my own experience , I'm only trying to give info on NHS as you're abroad .

Is it possible your mum is trying to avoid worrying you ? Can someone go with her and could you talk to that person ?

Good luck ,it's horrid for you being so far way .

LazyMonkeyButler Thu 09-May-13 10:12:34

I have experience of this with both my dad & then my mum. Unfortunately, in their cases it did mean bad news BUT, as other posters have said, they were given their own urgent appointments within about a week or so of the initial tests.

Realistically, the fact that your mum has been given an appointment in an oncology unit at all probably means that they have not yet ruled out cancer - however, waiting for a cancellation to call her in rather than getting her in urgently would suggest to me that they haven't actually confirmed a diagnosis either. I agree that they may want to do some further tests to be sure one way or the other.

It may also be that the specialist reviewing the scan results was unsure and wanted a second opinion from an Oncologist - hence the appointment "when we get a cancellation".

Unfortunately, it could be a number of scenarios - some bad, some not so bad. The waiting is awful, I know. Lots of positive thoughts & hand holding in the meantime smile.

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 10:15:14

Ginger, thank you - it was actually the endoscopy where she was told that all looked clear and fine. You're absolutely right the CT Scan was much more as you say.

Also you are TOTALLY right about my parents trying to avoid worrying me. Honestly they treat me as if I'm a 6 year old rather than a 45 year old grown up. God love them, but really, it drives me mad. I only found out the scans were with the Oncology Unit as dad let something slip when he was feeling particularly miserable sad.

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 10:18:20

Man, you guys are chuffing fabulous. You're almost making me weep with your kindness, but also so helpful to have your input and advice.

LazyMonkeyButler I'm so very sorry to hear that both your parents have already been down this rather grim path. Thank you for so much for your reassuring words.

NotAQueef Thu 09-May-13 10:21:45

Another hand to hold here. Hopefully you'll have some news soon.

gingeroots Thu 09-May-13 10:37:03

Oh Claudia I sympathise about being treated as a 6 year old .

My 93 year old mum with many health problems still finds it necessary to talk me through how to use the washing machine .

Are your parents cunning enough to have invented the cancellation ?

Anyway you'll know soon enough . I think I'd lay it on the line for the,
" Of course I understand once a parent always a parent but unless I have full clear details you're NOT protecting me ,you're making me worry more "

Though having said that ,it is very hard if you're having tests for possible cancer . Of course you don't want to tell anyone until the position is clarified . And if it is cancer ,until you've got your head round it .

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 11:06:44

grin Ginger at our parents completely parenting us 'til we're doddery old women ourselves.

I don't think they invented the cancellation, although who knows. Good idea about the "not protecting me but worrying me" point. Whichever way this turns out then they need to allow me in a bit more. Hopefully they're comfortable with that!

Good point too about giving them space to get used to any bad news if it happens.

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 12:19:14

Right, I've just spoken to my mum, she's back from the hospital.

It seems that she has a lump in her lung shock. She's never smoked in her life so am hopeful that it's not cancer (understatement). She did have TB as a child so apparently it can scar the lung.

She has another scan booked in July, to see if it's changed, and is having further blood tests to so the doc can understand the TB properly.

I'm now googling lung scarring.

Thanks for the help. If anyone has any TB info to relate I'd be grateful.

LazyMonkeyButler Thu 09-May-13 12:24:18

That's a positive result by the sounds of things smile.

The oncologist can't be too worried if he/she is happy to wait until July to rescan and see what's happening.

Apart from having heard that TB can cause scarring, I don't know anything specifically about it I'm afraid. I'm sure someone much more knowledgeable will come along shortly smile.

gnushoes Thu 09-May-13 12:25:47

Claudia my mum had something odd on her lung last year shown up on a scan. After weeks of worrying, the next check showed it to be the end of a blood vessel and nothing to be concerned about.

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 12:28:50

Thanks LazyMonkey. I've just spoken to my DH who was pretty chirpy about the news. It would be bloody bad luck if she did have lung cancer - she's been the most rabid anti-smoker.

After a bit of Dr Google it does look as though TB does cause calcified scarring - apparently the lump has chalk in it (ugh).

Aren't bodies peculiar.

ClaudiaSchiffer Thu 09-May-13 12:29:54

Gnushoes it's bloody horrid isn't it - the worry. I'm so glad your mum had a good result.

Pandemoniaa Thu 09-May-13 21:27:39

That sounds quite encouraging, Claudia. If they don't think she needs another appointment until July then I doubt that there's any immediate cause for concern. Usually, if the diagnosis is not good, (as in the recent case of my DP following an emergency admission and endoscopy) they'll be very quick to run a battery of tests and subsequent consultations. Good luck.

digerd Fri 10-May-13 06:59:05

My DH was diagnosed with a Bronchial Carcinoma, but had an endoscopy to take a biopsy of it. I think it depends on where the lump is and if accessible for endoscopic biopsy.

TB does leave a scarring and shows up as a shadow in an ordinary X-ray.

DH was told that 90% of lumps in the lung are malignant.
But my 84 year-old neighbour has had one for years which has never grown or made her ill. Could not be biopsied, but is obviously benign.

Your DM's losing so much weight is worrying, though.

Good luck for the results of the CT scan.

ClaudiaSchiffer Fri 10-May-13 08:27:28

Hi Pandemoniaa and digerd, so sorry that your husbands have had such an awful diagnosis. How are they now?

Mums consultant said that because the lump is in an awkward place he'd rather not biopsy - just monitor it.

I am a bit shock at your 90% statistic! <gulp>

The weight loss thing is pretty worrying I agree. She has apparently put some on recently so isn't as skin-and-bone as she was. Poor mum.

Thanks to you both and flowers for you, it must be enormously hard supporting your dh's.

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