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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The case of the soft-tissue mass

When last we met, I was going to see thoracic surgeon Dr. Joseph Boyer, who might have to remove the growing growth attached to the esophagus he created from the excesses of my stomach.

Dr. Boyer said the PET scan's all-clear might be inconclusive because the CT scan showed this growth had pretty much quadrupled in size since the summer. He felt a biopsy was needed, and suggested Dr. William Mayoral, a partner of Dr. Philip Styne. Well, he said he could do it but the procedure "would hurt more" if he had to surgically obtain the biopsy. Further, Dr. Boyer said if Dr. Mayoral pulled the biopsy, he might be able to suction the entire soft-tissue growth from my body if it was comprised of fluid.

So, the docs got together and scheduled me for the biopsy on Friday -- Dr. Mayoral was going to grab the sample via an endoscopy with ultrasound to locate the growth outside the esophagus, then use a needle or some other small surgical device to obtain the sample.

He did this procedure and it went well. As I was waiting for the car to be pulled around at Orlando Regional Medical Center, Dr. Mayoral phoned me to say it appeared the tissue was not malignant.

Whew! This confirmed the PET scan's findings: I apparently don't have more cancer growing inside me.

So Monday, I saw Dr. Lee Zehngebot, the oncologist who along with a slew of other docs and medical professionals saved my life through chemistry. Dr. Z spoke to Dr. Mayoral, who confirmed that the tissue was negative for cancer. But he was concerned: "I don't know what it is," Dr. Z said. And that concerns him.

So his office is setting up another CT scan for two weeks from now to take another look at the growth to see if it has grown further since my last scan Dec. 7. After that, it's likely he'll want Dr. Boyer to remove the soft-tissue mass.

I asked Dr. Z what the worst-case scenario is. He said I could have cancer. But the pathology tested negative, I reminded him. He agreed, yet was concerned because it was such a mystery.

(I always like a good mystery, but somehow this one I'm not enjoying so much.)

So there will be more tests and scans -- possibly surgery -- and I presume isotopes flowing through my veins as the docs solve "The Case of the Soft-Tissue Mass," coming soon to a blog post near you.