The language of CT scan reports

Posted December 11th, 2008 by Jane

When I read my scan reports…a couple of days after a friendly phone chat with oncologist, they always seem a bit different from how she reports them.

The blood clot for example is not just a ‘possibility’ but ‘a filling defect presumably thrombus seen in the left internal jugular vein.’ That explains the rush for heperin and warfarin.

I’ve noticed that strangely the word ‘cancer’ is always missing from scan reports, as is ‘carcinoma’…the word used on biopsy reports. Scans have the language of lesions and metasteses and lymph nodes and disease progression.

The new ‘lymph node’ in my right armpit measures 4cm…which is ‘large’. And its grown during chemotherapy in three months. A scan just measures what is there on the day…no wonder practice is not to routinely scan primary breast cancer patients at regular check ups. It can all change so quickly.

And as for my lungs…well yet again ‘there is consolidation in the left lower lobe which may be inflammatory in origin’. Or what? Cause in the conclusions radiologist writes: ‘Although the left lower lobe consolidation may be inflammatory, I am concerned regarding the changes in the subcutaneoous tissues of the left breast which appear more conspicuous than on the previous CT scan.’ Everyone expects the cancer to go to my lungs next…so maybe the detail in the scheme of things doesn’t matter.

And no mention of the ’shotty mediastinal nodes’ nor the ‘few tiny para aortic nodes of unclear significance’ spotted last time round. Well that’s good then.