Hi. This is kind of a long story but I will keep it as brief as possible.
My now 74yo mother had pneumonia in 1/2009. In 2/2009, her pulmonary doctor ordered a CT scan. It showed multiple nodules in both lungs. Most of these were under 5mm in size. These have been followed with no change except for one in the lower right lobe that had grown from 4mm in 2/2009 to 6-7mm in 9/10. The doctor ordered a PET scan (performed 10/2010 that was showed no unusual uptake in that nodule. However, it did show a hyper metabolic 1.7cm nodule with ground glass opacities in the upper right lobe along with some nearby lymph node hypermetabolism. This was not on the CT scan 12 day prior to the PET and the radiologist believed it to be some kind if infection or inflammation. Another CT scan was performed in 12/2010. The lower right lobe nodule was still 6-7mm in size and the upper nodule that was on 10/2010 PET scan at 1.7cm was now 1.4cm. A bronchoscopy was performed 1/2011. After a week, the cultures have not shown anything. We were told that some of these take 6 weeks to show up. The brushings were negative in all areas except the upper right lobe where the results came back as abnormal' but it did not say cancer. The doctor said that certain infections/inflammations can do this as well. He has ordered another CT scan for 2/2011 in hopes that it has either shrunk or, at least not gotten any bigger. He said if it continues to grow, it will probably need to come out. But he also said that cancer really doesn't grow as fast as this appears to have grown in 12 days.
Here is some additional background. She is a smoker (half a pack per day). She also has hyperthyroidism that she is taking PTU for (for the past 5 or so years). She also noticed recently a patch on the center/back of her head that is starting to bald. Even through the hyperthyroidism and PTU treatment, she has never lost any hair until the last 6-9 months. I looked at her scalp in that area and noticed it was slightly orange with a few mole-like spots, while the rest of the scalp was pink and fleshy. This will be of importance in a minute. When I Googled 'abnormal lung cells', I of course came across many cancer sites... but I also came across many sarcoidosis sites. I found that these can affect any part of the body but are more prevalent in the lungs. I also found that they can show hyper metabolic activity on PET scans. I also ran across a picture of someone's scalp with sarcodosis that looks very similar. Lastly, I found that sarcodosis occurs more often in women with thyroid problems.
Any thoughts or suggestions on how to proceed from here?
If this nodule continues to enlarge, then it will need to be biopsied to rule out cancer, I'm afraid. (In many cases, a needle biopsy can be performed on an outpatient basis, using a CT scanner to guide the biospy needle.)
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