Should I push for a PET scan for a 7 mm nodule?

Portal Forums Cancer Basics Imaging Issues Should I push for a PET scan for a 7 mm nodule?

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July 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm  #1257741    


I’m a 70 yo woman with biapical scarring and a 7mm nodule in my left upper lobe. No change between scans in March and June. Next scan in 9 months. Never smoked, had bronchitis twice (age 22and age 50). No other lung problems until 2 years ago when I developed wheezing and shortness of breath when I joined a swim team. No help from albuterol and QVAR; pulmonary function tests showed some abnormalities. Thus the scan. (The scans also showed CAD and aortic calcifications. I have 5 stents and take the usual drugs.)

I’ve used the online calculator which gives the probability of my nodule being cancer at 8.5%. In playing with the calculator, I’ve found that PET scan results have the most weight in determining probability of cancer. I’ve also read that nodules smaller than 8-9 mm present difficulties in getting accurate info from a PET scan. So my question is: is 7 mm large enough for me to request a PET scan? Do you think it is worthwhile for me to do this. I don’t want to just sit back and wait if I have the beginning of lung cancer. Thanks.

July 5, 2013 at 10:25 pm  #1257742    
Dr West
Dr West

Not only is 7 mm on the cusp of being detectable by PET anyway, the fact that it hasn’t grown over 3 months makes it less likely, size for size, to be detected by PET. The presence or absence of growth over time is really the most reliable indicator at this time. Good luck.

-Dr. West

Howard (Jack) West, MD
Medical Oncologist

Views expressed here represent my opinion, not those of GRACE or Swedish Cancer Institute. This information does not constitute medical advice and is intended to supplement and not replace medical information provided by your doctor.

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