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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Miscellaneous Cancer Topics

Question: How do I get checked for cancer?

 TDM - Mon May 21, 2007 10:23 am

I doubt a simple physical exam and simple blood testing can tell if I have cancer in some area of my body.

Just to be on the safe side, is there some type of testing I can go through to determine whether I am cancer free?
 debmatt - Mon May 21, 2007 4:06 pm

A PET scan would tell you if you had any cancer in your body but it is very costly and a doctor would need to give you a referral for insurance to pay.

 TDM - Tue May 22, 2007 8:04 am

Hello dbmatt, how do I convince my PCP to give me a referral? What do I need to tell him? If I tell him I just want a PET scan because I want to be on the safe side, is that likely to convince me to give me a referral? If not, how do I convince him?

Just for the record, how much would a PET scan cost if I were to pay it with my own money?
 TDM - Tue May 22, 2007 8:08 am

By the way, I want to get checked for cancer because I have heard several stories about people who had cancer but by the time they learned they had cancer the cancer was too advanced and they had only a few months left to live.

I know that's unlikely to happen, but if all it takes is a referral from the PCP and a PET scan, I might as well do it and be on the safe side.
 debmatt - Tue May 22, 2007 1:32 pm

I have heard that they cost around $6,000. I guess it could be more or less than this.
If you have medical insurance the only way that you could get them to pay is if your doctor had a reason to fight to get the scan done. I think you would be on your own to pay for this.
What kind of cancer of you afraid of. I am afraid of lymphoma. I am obsessed with thinking that I have it.

 TDM - Wed May 23, 2007 8:01 am

I am afraid of all cancers. That's why I want to get checked for any type of cancer in my body.
 FriggenItalian - Sat Jul 10, 2010 12:17 pm

I am in the same boat. I have a long history of cancer in my family and I have not been feeling too well, myself. I have been asking for an MRI, CT-scan and PET scan for over a year. It's not easy to get them to sign off on it. I suspect the doctor is afraid to sign off on it and not get paid.
 Dr.M.Aroon kamath - Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:15 pm

User avatar Hi TDM and others,

The answer to your question is a simple "NO". There is no known, widely available, 100% reliable, test to detect cancer anywhere in the body.

In the human body(even in health), microscopic areas (at the level of one or a few cells)of mutation and malignant change is believed to take place. Not all of them get 'established' to go on to become clinical malignancies.The cells which thus mutate, may get destroyed by a number of ways including,
- death due to apoptosis (programmed cell death),
- destruction by body defenses (cellular,antibody mediated),
- by out-growing their blood supply,
- unfavourable cell/matrix environment,or
- by being simply shed off (in areas such as the intestinal mucosa for example where the mucosal cell turnover is very rapid, or in the lungs, where they may get coughed out) etc.

Moreover, no test (including the much discussed PET), is 100% reliable in detecting as well as excluding a malignancy.

Specifically, the sensitivity of PET ranged from 84 - 87%, the specificity ranged from 88% - 93%, and the accuracy ranged from 87 - 90% in some studies.
( ... /spec_sens).

Sensitivity and specificity values depend upon the 'false positives' and 'false negatives'.

The aforesaid values are for known or suspected 'lesions'.

Imagine someone who has no known or suspected lesions, undergoing a very expensive test (especially coupled with the knowledge that small microscopic 'tumors' may be 'normally' exist and with inherent false positive and negative rates), may in all probability end up with a permanent 'cancer phobia' - a psychological wreck.

The answer to your question once again is a simple "NO".
Good luck!

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