This is one of several essays from my private cancer journal. It is not intended as anything than a record of my states of mind as I struggled with the disease and the effects of the treatment.
Notes From That Wilder Shore:
I get a bone scan and guess what?
October 17, 2001
The good news just never stops. (big smile)
I got a full body bone scan today.
But what you see on the left is wasn't today's. That is a portion of the scan taken nine months ago, on January 11, 2001.
I get a scan after an injection of Quadramet, as part of the clinical trial that I've been part of since January. For those who don't know, Quadramet is a radiopharmaceutical, a drug that has a radioactive agent. (In this case, it is Samarium [Sm-153].) Quadramet is generally used to treat bone pain but they opened a clinical trial to see if it could be used to prevent the ONSET of bone pain in men who had gone refractory, but were not yet suffering from bone pain.
I signed up for the trial and started back in January. You can read more about it in the essays I wrote about the trail.
The Quadramet attaches itself to the cancer and delivers doses of radiation directly to the tumors. The rest passes out of the body.
About 90 minutes after the injection, they give me a full body bone scan. I don't know if this is done with regular Quadramet treatments but it was in the trial.
This time, since my PSA had dropped to .45, as of a couple of weeks ago, I asked we could compare this scan to the first one to see if there was any change. Sure, Dr. Silberstein said, but don't expect to see much of a change. The reason, he said, was because even if a cancer has left the bone, if it had been eating into the bone and the bone is rebuilding, the new growth will show in the scan. It is the same with broken bones, he said. Up to 18 months after the bone has healed, a scan will show the break because it is new bone.
Oh, well, I said as I shrugged. I was just hoping.
Later, when the scan was completed and I was getting up from the miserably hard surface I had to lie on for what seemed like eternity, the technician who was doing the scan and knew my interest was at the computer console where the image appeared.
"You're right," she said with a smile. "It has improved."
She had pulled up the first scan from January and was pointing to some differences in the two images. I haven't had a chance to closely inspect results before my
understanding was slow. She pointed to the pelvic area as the most notable change. I then looked at the one from January where I had a large met on the mid-ribs and then at the new scan. It was practically gone.
"Am I seeing that right?" I asked.
"Yep," she said with a big smile. "That's what I mean. I'll be making a copy of them for you."
A few minutes later, Dr. Silberstein said the same. He was holding a copy of each scan. The lessening of the mets - especially the one on the 6th or so rib which was practically gone - were quite evident and he was delighted that my suspicion had been borne out.
I was happily stunned, of course. It also meant that there might be less cancer than the scan showed, given his earlier explanation.
With my films in hand, I headed home.
It was a good day.
See the two scans compared on one page by clicking here.