Saturday, February 21, 2009

February 21, 2009 - And Now, For Something Completely Different...

Yesterday I received a phone call from Dr. Lerner, who gave me some good news and some bad news. The good news is, my recent PET/CT scan reported no change with my lymphoma. It’s been that way for a while now. My indolent disease is continuing its shiftless ways, which is just fine with me.

The bad news is, the scan picked up some abnormalities on my thyroid gland. Dr. Lerner wants me to have an ultrasound of the thyroid, to check it out.

He didn’t sound too concerned. In fact, he said he didn’t think it was much of anything, but he wants me to have the ultrasound just to be sure.

I heard Dr. Lerner use the word “adenoma” as an explanation for what this could possibly be. On the web, I found this description from a medical textbook:

“Most [thyroid] nodules rather than being cancer (carcinomas) are actually tumorous collections of benign cells variously called adenomas or adenomatoid nodules.

Whether nodules are ‘cold’ or ‘hot’ on thyroid nuclear scanning relates to their ability to trap and collect radioactive substances such as radioactive iodine or other radioactive elements used in nuclear medicine. These isotopes are either swallowed or injected intravenously and their extraction from the blood and concentration within the nodules causes the areas corresponding to the nodules to show up as black ‘hot’ spots on the scan image.

Hot nodules are rarely cancer and most often represent benign follicular adenomas. In addition, such hot nodules may in fact be overproducing thyroid hormone and may cause hyperthyroidism. The larger the ‘hot’ nodule the more likely it will be associated with hyperthyroidism.”

I thought about asking him some questions about various scenarios that could ensue, but thought better of it. He’s not going to be able to tell me anything, I reasoned. That’s why he’s asking for the ultrasound. You’re just going to have to suck it up and wait.

So, that’s what I’m doing. Dr. Lerner is going to have someone from his staff call me next week, to set up an appointment at Ocean Medical Center. Then, it will be more waiting, while the radiologist interprets the results and shares them with Dr. Lerner.

I’m not feeling too concerned about it. Seems like “waiting” is my middle name, these days. Several years ago, I might have gotten anxious, but after undergoing a couple of biopsies plus chemotherapy, an ultrasound is a piece of cake. I’m actually feeling more anxious about the wisdom tooth I’m scheduled to have my dentist extract on Monday.

It’s just another test. I’ll be hoping that, like all the other recent scans I’ve had, this one, too will prove to be of little concern.


Wendy S. Harpham, MD said...

Dear Pastor,
Your approach to this "wrinkle" makes good sense.

One thing about being followed closely for indolent lymphoma: Other things will be picked up that might have been missed otherwise.

Sometimes this is a nuisance, because they pick up something benign that might have been missed and never caused a moment of trouble.

Sometimes this is a life-saver, because the testing for lymphoma picked up a new problem early that, if picked up only later, might have caused serious trouble.

Keep in mind that thyroid adenomas are common. And that you don't have a problem until you have a problem. And that as long as you are taking the right steps (as you are), there are many advantages to planning on the results being fine.

Glad to hear the good news about the lymphoma. Hang in there. With hope, Wendy

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