We have a saying in medicine . We never say never in medicine. I have written many a times on unexpected and surprises that we see in different patient. But in spite of knowing that we never say never in medicine , things seem to come as surprise and then we say "there is exception to every rule". That brings me to the story for today .
I had known this lady for many years . Her husband was may patient and he had cancer of the lung and when we diagnosed it he had spread of the cancer to liver and he did survive for 4 years or so . She started seeing me after he had died . She had also smoked and she had COPD and we did the work up. She then developed lung cancer. She was 'lucky' and we had diagnosed the cancer in time - or at least we thought. She did ok but when the surgery was done she had some of the lymph nodes showing spread of cancer. So we did have her see oncologist and had treatment with chemotherapy. She continued to do OK and she had COPD and she had shortness of breath and needed oxygen .She also had gained weight and she had sleep apnea . I had told her after the diagnosis of the cancer and the need for the treatment to 'prevent' the recurrence that the recurrence happens most in first year and then less in second and least in third year after the diagnosis. After 3 rd year the chance of recurrence is not there and so you are cured if there is no evidence of cancer after 3 years .
Five years had gone by after the surgery and she had new scan. She had CT scan and then PET scan. That was abnormal and so she came to me. Five years had gone by since we had diagnosed cancer and she had surgery. So the possibility of old cancer coming again was low or not there . But patients who have one cancer have high chance of having second cancer is high and then depending upon the type of cancer the treatment may be different. The abnormality was in such a location that simple way to do the biopsy was not possible . I spoke to interventional radiologist and he did not feel he could get it and suggested that biopsy with ultrasound guidance through a bronchoscope was better choice . But the interventional pulmonologist did not feel EBUS or navigational bronchoscopy could get the diagnosis. I did ot want open biopsy as this was not a curative surgery and she was oxygen dependent COPD . So the risk was higher . But I had no choice and so she did see the surgeon and had a biopsy and it was NOT A NEW CANCER but it was the SAME CANCER that was taken out 5 years ago.
THAT IS WHY IN MEDICINE WE NEVER SAY NEVER!