Why the Correct Diagnosis is Important
I first saw Mr T in 2004. At that time he was a 54-year old man. He stopped smoking 40 cigarettes a day in 2002 when he needed heart bypass surgery. He was also on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Before Mr T consulted me for a second opinion, he had been told he had advanced colon cancer that had spread to his lung. His doctor had done a chest x-ray and then a CT scan and those had showed a mass in the right lung. PET scan also showed that lung mass was highly suggestive of cancer and there was an abnormality in the large intestine. Colonoscopy showed a cancerous mass in the large intestine. His doctor told him to put his affairs in order and start chemotherapy to prolong his life.
Mr T was referred to me by a friend from his church. He and his family were devastated. After a detailed medical examination and review of all the results of his blood tests, CT scan and PET scan films and reports, I was cautiously optimistic that he did not have advanced end-stage cancer. In my experience, the evidence indicated a high possibility of an early stage primary lung cancer and a separate early stage colon cancer. I suggested he undergo surgery to remove both the large intestinal mass and the lung mass.
When I discussed with his surgeon for both the large intestinal and lung masses to be removed, the surgeon was concerned as both were quite major surgeries. After putting together a multi-disciplinary team, the surgeon removed the large intestinal mass first and the lung surgeon removed the lung mass. His cardiologist and his anaesthetist monitored him throughout and after the surgery. The surgery was a huge success because both the masses were completely removed and the patient was well.
Pathology reports of the removed masses showed that Mr T indeed had a stage I colon cancer and stage Ia lung cancer. In fact, no chemotherapy was needed.
Till now, Mr T is well and cancer-free and sees me every 6 months for check-ups. The satisfaction that comes from confirming that Mr T had two early-stage, curable cancers is a constant encouragement to be extremely vigilant and careful with every patient I consult and striving always to do the best for them.