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Doctors cannot find the place of cancer of my father

My father just had a PET scan done. The Dr. said that it showed that he has cancer cells but they don't know where the cancer is. Is this normal? He wants him to wait 4 months and come back. That seems like a long time to me with no form of meds or treatment plans.
Asked On : Fri, 2 Jul 2010
Answers:  3 Views:  308
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Radiologist, Nuclear Medicine 's  Response
Your father has a condition called carcinoma of unknown primary site.
Usually patients present with enlarged lymph node which on pathological examination show cancer cell metastases.
This usually occurs in the head and neck but can also occur elsewhere.
Patient needs a complete ENT examination, blind biopsies from several sites from the head, throat. CT MRI and PET scan often help.
The pathologist can do an IHC and give an indication of the likely origin of the tumor.
But inspite of all these, several patients continue to have metastases without obvious primary cancer.
The treatment of these will involve multiple modalities and often radiotherapy to the involved nodes may be necessary
Answered: Sat, 21 Jul 2012
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Answered: Mon, 5 Jul 2010
General & Family Physician Dr. P. Mahesh's  Response
Welcome to HCM.
It is quite often seen that secondaries are detected first and the primary may not be identified for quite some time.
In your father's case probably they have not even detected secondaries but either from his clinical presentation or result of tumour markers, they have a strong suspicion of malignancy.
What they advised is the best. Wait for advised period and get a recheck done and if some symptoms occur earlier than the advised time you should consult the doctor immediately.
Unless a firm diagnosis is made it is not advisable to prescribe medicines just based on speculation.
Wishing your father all the best.
Answered: Tue, 18 Oct 2011
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