Saturday, February 13, 2010
Quarterly scans all clear, but . . .
Thursday morning I had both an MRI of my leg and the full set of Chest, Abdomen, and Pelvis (CAP) CT-Scans. These scans, of course, were preceded by a Wednesday evening “nightcap” of “Creamy Vanilla Smoothie” (a.k.a., Barium Sulfate Suspension), with the same for breakfast Thursday morning. I have to admit, the Vanilla was the best of all the flavors I have tried. That’s not to say that I liked it either, but rather that it was the most tolerable of the ones I’ve had thus far. Next time though, I think I’ll press my luck and go for the (even newer) Mocha flavor! Mmm . . . Mocha . . . I just hope I can stand the anticipation between now and then! [No, not really; I can wait. :)]
And there’s one more but worth mentioning here: all my scans this time were done without IV contrast. Why? Well, recent blood tests showed slightly elevated creatinine levels (mine is 1.5) and there was some concern that the powerful intravenous contrast agents (those used with the CT-scans especially) might send my kidneys “over the edge”. What’s surprising to me is that I’ve always been good about drinking plenty of water and I’ve made a point of drinking 2 – 3 bottles of water immediately after each CT-Scan in an effort to quickly flush these from my system (as suggested by the radiologist). Even so, it's possible that the sum of all these dyes to-date has led to my elevated creatinine levels. But it's even more likely (as one comment below suggests) that in my case what I'm seeing here is a late effect of my chemotherapy drugs. Either way, I will need to avoid contrast agents going forward.
To be clear, I’m not blaming anyone for this. Dr. Monson never ordered any contrast with my scans and has long since preached against this practice, arguing that the risk outweighs any perceived benefit. Furthermore, in my case, I am told that about 80% of any Myxoid Liposarcoma recurrence would show up as “chest nodules”, which is something you don’t need contrast to see.
So why was IV contrast used in the first place? Well, it’s the radiologists who seem to prefer it. But even there, they were fine with skipping it knowing that my creatinine levels were elevated. In fact, they were very appreciative that I had my levels tested and that I brought this to their attention.
So why even mention this? The point here is that one needs to be aware that cancer treatment and/or prevention can lead to yet a new set of problems. Also, if you’re having MRIs and/or CT-Scans with IV contrast, be sure to drink plenty of water immediately after the exam to help flush these dyes from your system. Finally, make sure that your doctor monitors your creatinine levels (especially if you've had chemotherapy drugs) so that any issues are caught early . . . before they have a chance to become big problems.
OK – I’m done. I’ve rambled on long enough. Expect to hear from me in another 3 months.