Sunday, January 26, 2014

3-month Follow Up With Oncologist

This past week I had my 3-month follow-up appointment with my regular oncologist.  Hard to believe it's been three months since my clean PET scan!

We discussed my mysterious itching, which has gotten much better.  Our conclusion is as expected: dry skin (exacerbated by chemo), combined with stress.  According to WebMD: "Stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive. It can also make it harder for skin problems to heal."  I tend to internalize my stress (guilt, worry, etc.), so this is a very likely cause…  

Speaking of stress, it's causing a few sleepless nights as well.  It's getting better, but I'm giving melatonin supplements a shot.

I had blood work done before my appointment, and apparently my hemoglobin levels are still a little low from chemo.  Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that carry oxygen.  Although my levels are still a little low, they are higher than my last blood test (from October) and are barely below the "normal" range for a healthy person.  No cause for alarm and this shouldn't cause any symptoms.

The plan moving forward will be to have CAT scans done every 6 months for several years (likely 5 years).  We originally anticipated PET scans every 6 months, but my oncologist says recent studies actually show better results with CAT scans for monitoring purposes.  PET scans can show false-positives more often.  CAT scans won't be able to highlight cancer the way PET scans can, but it will show any unusual tumors.  CAT scans are much easier, shorter, and cheaper than PET scans, so I'm happy for this news!

The doc did a physical exam - which included feeling my lymph nodes throughout my body.  She felt no noticeable abnormalities.  So now I'll see her again on April 21 (the CAT scan and blood tests will be scheduled for the prior week).


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