Mass is highly suspicious for neoplasm/metastasis: What does it mean?

Posted by btflmom @btflmom, Nov 12, 2021

I just had a PET scan that found a "Hypermetabolic 1.6 cm splenic mass is highly suspicious for neoplasm/metastasis". I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 3 years ago and had my thyroids removed as well as several lymph nodes. Last year I had another cancerous lymph node removed as well as some thyroid tissue. My question is, what does all this mean and what questions should I be asking my doctor?

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Hi @btflmom, welcome. Because you had thyroid cancer, I added this discussion to the Thyroid Cancer group as well as the Cancer group. You may wish to follow the Thyroid Cancer group here: https://connect.mayoclinic.org/group/thyroid-cancer/

It can be nerve-wracking to see the results of tests before having an appointment to review them with your doctor. I'm not a doctor, but I might be able to help explain a few things that you've mentioned.

Regarding metabolic activity.
"A PET scan (positron emission tomography) works to identify areas of hypermetabolic activity anywhere in the body. A radioactive substance is given to the patient and this attaches to glucose, which is attracted to cells that are hypermetabolic. When the scan is done, these areas "light up." Often, but not always, cancer cells fall into this category of being hypermetabolic. In addition, not everything that is hypermetabolic is cancer."

It sounds like there was a significant amount of hypermetabolic activity shown on the PET scan results. The scan cannot differentiate between cancer cells or other situations like infection or inflammation that may be causing this activity.

Does this help you know what questions to ask? I would ask about what further testing should you have to confirm or rule out cancer spread. When is your appointment with your doctor?

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Thank you so much for the information Colleen! I'm waiting for my surgeon and my oncologist to talk (and it's taking forever!) So right now I don't have a follow up appointment. The lesion/tumor/whatever was found when I had an ultrasound done because of gallbladder issues. I'm having the gallbladder removed and a biopsy of the spleen will be taken at that time. Waiting is the hardest part.

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@btflmom

Thank you so much for the information Colleen! I'm waiting for my surgeon and my oncologist to talk (and it's taking forever!) So right now I don't have a follow up appointment. The lesion/tumor/whatever was found when I had an ultrasound done because of gallbladder issues. I'm having the gallbladder removed and a biopsy of the spleen will be taken at that time. Waiting is the hardest part.

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I agree that waiting is the hardest part. When will you have gallbladder surgery?

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