I was able to get in for an ultrasound a couple hours after my initial doctor visit (see previous post). My ultrasound was scheduled at a hospital 15 miles or so down the road. I wasn’t overly concerned at that point; mostly just happy they were pursuing appropriate testing to get a better idea of the cause. The ultrasound was quick and painless. The results indicated that the primary mass was 5.8 cm. At that point I had googled enough to know that was bigger than expected for just a lymph node swollen due to an infection, but everyone is different. The results also indicated (per the medical reports) that the “Neoplastic process is felt to be less likely given the clinical course and presenting symptoms”. Although this seemed like good news, mention of the “Neoplasic process” suddenly made this more concerning. FYI - According to cancer.gov, a neoplasm is “An abnormal mass of tissue that results when cells divide more than they should or do not die when they should”. I didn’t have too much time to dwell on this result though, as the results led them to perform a CT scan. Things were moving quickly…the CT scan was scheduled a few hours later, still the same day.
This was the first time I’ve ever had a CT scan. This was a CT scan “with contrast”, meaning they insert a drug (in this case iopamidoL) through an IV line during the scan. This drug contains iodine, which absorbs x-rays and helps the medical staff get a better picture of the area scanned. The process was relatively quick. They had me lay on the table while the machine whirred around my head. After a few minutes, they came in to administer the contrast before repeating the procedure. They warned me that I may feel “warmth” from the contrast. In reality, I had a second where I thought I may have pooped in their $2,500,000 machine.
After the CT scan I went home. Within an hour or so of having the CT scan, I received a call from the nurse practitioner that I saw that morning. She indicated that I was being referred to an ENT doctor and should expect a call Monday to get an appointment set up. I also utilize an app on my phone in order to view medical results, and the CT scan results were posted after the call. The results indicated a “left parapharyngeal mass partially encircling the left ICA measuring 1.8 x 2.3 x 3.8 cm. This could reflect a primary head and next neoplasm or pathologically enlarged lymph node. Adenopathy involving the left neck measuring up to 2.9 x 2.1 cm”. Well, that gave me plenty to worry about all weekend! The report concluded with a recommendation for ENT evaluation.