My Follow-up Abdominal CT Scans
Last updated: May 2023
After 2 wide-resection operations to remove dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) skin cancer in both April and May 2021, I am required to have follow-up CT scans and visits with my surgical oncologist and full body scans with my dermatologist every 6 months. My oncologist orders an abdominal CT scan with both oral and IV contrast, which is basically a dye that will light up areas of malignancy (cancer) in my body. This is to ensure that I continue to remain free of skin cancer.
Follow-up tests make me nervous
Last week, I went to LabCorp with my oncologist’s order to have bloodwork done to measure my kidney functioning since IV contrast is metabolized by the kidney and can cause damage. Today, I went in for my CT scan. I am always nervous during this entire process because I never know if or when DFSP will return since recurrence is common.
Chugging the oral contrast mix
Yesterday, I went to the imaging center to pick up the oral contrast to drink since I must drink it 1 hour prior to having the CT scan. The contrast was in a small 50mL clear bottle and it came with a large measuring cup and instructions. I had to get 32 ounces of water (or juice or milk) and mix it in. I chose water, and I chugged it. It did not have a taste thankfully.
I then drove to the imaging center, signed in, and waited for the receptionist to call my name for my insurance card and order from my oncologist. She gave me paperwork to fill out, which basically asks simple questions about previous reactions to IV contrast, current pregnancy possibilities, and previous surgeries and medical history.
Praying through the test
Once I was called back to the CT room, I laid on a table in front of the large round “donut” CT machine. The technician started an IV and flushed it with saline, which is just sterile water. I prayed, “Lord I am trusting You for a favorable outcome.”
She started the machine, which scans my abdomen after alerting me to hold my breath for a few seconds. Once I finished the first scan, the technician started the contrast push through my IV, which made my body feel strange and warm, but tolerable.
I repeated the CT process of holding my breath and getting scanned. After that scan was finished, the technician gently pulled my IV out, covered the site with a bandage, and told me to drink plenty of water to flush the contrast out of my kidneys.
Waiting for the results
Now, I have to wait. A radiologist will interpret the scans and send the interpretation to my surgical oncologist, who I will be seeing next week. I am praying for good news.
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