please help me understand my dads cancer results?

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Ok so my dad went for a scan in the tunnel and they came back saying has cancer in his lung and liver.

He then went for these fine needles aspiritation in his neck to find out more.

They have said the tests have come back inconclussive and he needs to have a liver biopsy but they have told him he as malignant cancer.

This is where im confused because if they have not got the results off the needle asiration how do they know its malignant?

Please some body help me understand how they know this.

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  • Posted

    Hi.  Sorry about your dad's illness.  The doctors are the ones who should be answering your questions, you have good reasonable questions.  All i can do is guess, as a non-doctor non-medical person.  He had a scan, i guess it was a CT scan or an MRI.  That can show if there are masses in the body that would be likely to be tumors or which would even prove that they are tumors when the radiologist looks at them.  I think if cancer is in the liver and lung, that could be one reason why they would say malignant, because malignant means it's growing or spreading beyond where it starts out, and i think it usually starts in one organ so if it's found in another organ that's nearby, that would probably mean a malignancy. It's possible that it could have started in either the liver or the lung and spread to the other one, or it's possible that it started somewhere else that they haven't discovered yet. That might be why they did fine needle aspirations in the neck, that's something i know nothing about, why they would go to the neck---maybe they were looking at lymph nodes to see if cancer cells were there and if it's inconclusive, that could mean different things, they would have to tell you, maybe they found nothing that they thought would be there, yet they still think it's likely so instead of calling it negative, they call it inconclusive. Or maybe there were abnormal cells but not meeting the criteria of cancer, so they can't say what it is.  

    Are you able to ask these doctors your questions so that you will know more about what's going on?   It's already terribly stressful that he is sick and they think he's seriously ill.  To also have the stress of having unanswered questions can make the stress worse, and can increase the level of worrying. I like to know everything i can find out when something is wrong, and i have found that most doctors i've consulted with don't want to talk to me in any detail about my questions. While if there is bad news, that is worrisome i find that i worry a lot more if i don't know the answers to my questions.  The more i know, the less anxious i feel. So if that's true for you, i hope you can have a talk with the doctors and ask how they know there's a malignancy, what was the evidence of that, what were they looking for when they did the aspiration of cells in his neck?, if they know it's malignant, why do they need a biopsy of the liver?  What can that tell them?  And any other questions you have, including asking them for an arrangement where, when other questions come up for you, you can call or come in and ask and get answers.  

    If they were the patient or the patient's family, they'd want to know these things and they would find out.  

    The only reason i can think of that they would want a liver biopsy is that it couild show whether the cancer is primary in the liver and spread to the lung, or if it's not primary in the liver and started out somewhere else.  When cancer spreads from its original place, it's called metastasis, it metastacizes to different places. Metastatic cancer cells might be different from primary cancer cells.  Both lung and liver are places where other cancers metastacize to, so a liver biopsy might clear up questions they have about that, and that might help them to know what treatment will be most helpful.  I think that the most common primary cancer of the liver is called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).  I am not sure about this, but i think that HCC would have a specific kind of cell, while other cancers of the liver would have other kinds of cells.  Tell your dad's doctors that you want to be part of a team with them and want them to share the reasons why they do the procedures they are doing, and what might come next depending on what they find.  I have not had the best luck in having doctors communicate with me, and i know they have their reasons, but it's been frustrating. i really appreciate the occasional doctors i find who do communicate and keep me in on their reasons and their thinking.  Good luck to you and your dad, i know his doctors are wanting to find out what the best treatment will be, what will give the best results, prolong his life, maximize his quality of life, keep him comfortable, and keep his family reassured and supported. Maybe the medical center where he is being evaluated has social services and counseling for family members. That can be really helpful. 

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    • Posted

      Thank you jaw you have really gone into some detail here.  I have asked the question twice and she talks in words i dont understand. 

      I said to her today is it a fact that its malignant or is it a guess?

      At the end of the converatation im still non the wiser.

      I will have to continue to ask the question and hope for the best.

      Thank you for the reply.

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    • Posted

      Maybe if you tell the doctor you are not going to consent to the liver biospy because you don't understand the reason for it since they already are saying it's malignant and you don't want to put your dad through any procedure that doesn't have an understandable reason, maybe they will explain it better. I am sure they want to do it and need to do it, if that's what they're planning, but it might be an effective strategem to require them to answer all questions clearly before proceding.  
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  • Posted

    hi, sorry to hear about your father's illness. i know how you are feeling. my father is also diagnosed with liver cirhosis but that was nearly 7 yrs ago. i m nt sure bt i think the reason why the doctor said it was malignant was because it has spread from the liver to the lungs or vise versa. cancer always starts at one point. maybe it had started from his liver and had spread to the lungs or the other way around. the checked your father's neck to see if the cancer had spread their as well. since your father has cancer in both the lungs and liver , i think the doctors are calling it malignant. and the result for the needle might be inconclusive because they don't know if it has spread to the neck or not. 

    i am not sure if what i said was right or not but i think thats what they meant. i understand how you feel. i was in the 5th standard when my father was diagnosed with cirhosis due to hypertension. 

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