Infection that cannot be cured or explained

Portal Forums Head/Neck Cancer General Head/Neck Cancer Infection that cannot be cured or explained

This topic contains 1 reply, has 2 voices, and was last updated by catdander forum moderator catdander forum moderator 8 months, 3 weeks ago.

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February 1, 2017 at 12:24 am  #1289956    


My sister-in-law has been for the past 3 years is in remission from pharyngolaryngeal cancer stage 3. She has a stoma to assist in her breathing that has continuously been infected and unable to heal since her surgery 3 years ago. She is presently in the hospital for double pneumonia and unknown infection of her stoma and lungs. The doctors have ordered various test with no clear result on the type of infection and what is causing the infection. They even had an outside Doctor for infection control come and view her chart and test and he has no answer for my sister-in-law. She had a Pet Scan some months ago due to the continuous reoccurring and unable to heal stoma. The Pet Scan results showed positive results for cancer at the stoma site. I understand that infections can give a false-positive results. The doctors have put her on high doses of IV and oral antibiotics, but unfortunately to no avail. She is getting weaker by the day, running a high fever, elevated WBC, and on 100% oxygen. They have performed several biopsies of the stoma site and all the biopsies have returned normal. Sputum specimens have also returned normal. Blood cultures have returned normal. If you have any insight or answer we would be so appreciative. Thank you and God Bless. From a concerned family member.

February 1, 2017 at 8:48 am  #1289961    
catdander forum moderator
catdander forum moderator

Hi Barb,

I’m so very sorry to hear about your sis in law’s problems. A PET scan measures cell activity, the more active the brighter the scan result. If a suspicious spot lights up it’s still suspicious but that’s not enough to diagnose with certainty. An infection also involves quite active cellular activity hence brighter/higher PET results. So a known infection site would be expected to light up. There are reason’s that oncologists believe a finding represents cancer but there’s no certainty without looking at cells under a microscope. More clarification from the onc may be needed to understand. Sometimes when everything points to cancer, in a patient being treated for cancer, an undiagnosable area is treated like cancer.

Infections in fixed equipment, especially that open to the outside of the body, especially with an already weakened immune system are all too common and sometimes they are very difficult to eradicate or even identify. An infectious disease specialist is often called in to help ferret out the problems. It sounds as though that’s been done. I’d check to see that she’s being seen by a infectious disease specialist. If that’s not possible where she is perhaps a teleconference between her physician and one is an option.

“There may be a few patients with cancer who are so immunocompromised that they can’t clear infections, but that’s the exception and definitely not the rule. If a specialist in infectious disease isn’t already involved, a consultation with an ID doc could certainly help as well.” –

I wish I could give you a more precise answer and I hope she feels better soon.

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