Pleural Effusion - 1259175

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wisconsinmom
Pleural Effusion - 1259175

A few weeks ago I started having very bad shoulder pain brought on by nothing at all. My uncle died of lung cancer after being treated for a shoulder problem that really was lung cancer. So, I knew that the shoulder may be a sign of lung cancer.
I am VERY proactive, so I immediately set the wheels in motion. I had the following done:
two chest x rays (I was told both were clear)
One shoulder x ray (clear)
One chest CT scan (clear)

I am still feeling pretty down and out, and I was thinking how I never SAW my x rays or scan. So I called the hospital and set up a time to pick up the actual reports and talk to a doctor.

ummm.....yeah, my x ray was NOT clear as they had told me. This is what it says: "....a very tiny left pleural effusion"
Yep, googled it and I am terrified.

Here is the thing, a week later is when I had the CT scan done. That report says "There is no pleural or pericardial effusion detected"

What the heck???? What am I supposed to do????

Dr West
Reply To: Pleural Effusion

This doesn't sound very suspicious for cancer at all. A small effusion is a nonspecific finding (meaning it can be caused by all kinds of things, such as just some inflammation), and it sounds like it's not clear that there is actually any effusion.

I don't see anything that would lead me to think that there's anything to do, but you can contact your doctor to clarify that point.

Otherwise, because we are a cancer education website, I'd welcome you to ask follow-up questions if you are ultimately shown to have a cancer (which I hope isn't the case, obviously), but otherwise, we can't really guide the management decisions of a workup that isn't necessarily a cancer. There are far more miscellaneous symptoms that lead to workups that don't show cancer.

-Dr. West

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Howard (Jack) West
Medical Oncologist
City of Hope Cancer Center
Duarte, CA

Founder & President
Global Resource for Advancing
Cancer Education

wisconsinmom
Reply To: Pleural Effusion

Thank you so much for your input Dr. West :-) I will not post anymore on this cancer site unless I do find myself heading down that road.

One more question before I go.....
The x ray said pleural effusion, the ct scan said none. Does the ct trump the x ray?

Dr West
Reply To: Pleural Effusion

Yes, a CT scan is WAY more accurate than an x-ray, with far more information.

-Dr. West

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Howard (Jack) West
Medical Oncologist
City of Hope Cancer Center
Duarte, CA

Founder & President
Global Resource for Advancing
Cancer Education