I had my CT scans last Friday. They did a full head and neck scan along with my upper respiratory system (throat and lungs). Scanning the lungs is mostly preventative because the first place Parotid Tumors like to go is the lungs. There were some areas with spots but the radiologist said they were probably tissue spots and not calcifications which made me feel a little more at ease. The new surgeon, Dr. P, couldn't tell me much more about the actual lung slides, as it's not his area of expertise, (which was fine), but, he was able to go over in detail the part of the neck CT where he could see the tumor. Dr. P said it is well defined in the front just as it feels from the outside...but to his surprise it has undefined/rugged borders at the back so the tumor has characteristics of both benign and malignant growths. This makes sense because it also has several different cell types making it up (We know it contains Acinar or Acinic cells, and also has a mixed make up of solid and cystic quality). He said this is another reason to have it out - mixed tumors have more of a tendency to degenerate into malignancies. Dr. P said in his experience, considering I have caught this at a smaller size, and considering that so far it seems slow growing, it will probably all be fine ....but he has to wait until it is out and sent to pathology to say its 100% benign. Dr. P said even if it is cancerous the first step of treatment is removal, so in essence, either way, we are a step ahead of the game and on the right path.
When I told him about the other ENT, the lack of experience, and how they brushed the surgery off as a simple removal, he stepped back almost surprised. He said absolutely not. Dr. P said removal of a Perotid Tumor is actually a very specialized and involved surgery. He said even with the size of my tumor, the surgery will be about 3 hours long. Since I did find it at a smaller stage, it can probably still be on an outpatient basis but even so, he said he always does this surgery at he hospital because its so involved. He said he would advise against doing this surgery at a surgery center, especially one not connected to a hospital. My concern exactly!
I walked away from my appointment feeling much better about the whole situation. The Nurse called me this morning promptly and scheduled my pre-op appointment for April 2nd and my surgery for April 5th. She apologized for not having an earlier date available, but Dr. P will actually be gone the entire middle of March. I didn't mind - waiting a few extra weeks for this particular doctor to do my surgery is completely worth it to me.
Of course, I won't have that "final" peace of mind until this is removed, and I have that final pathology report in my hands. But I know that can't happen until after surgery day anyway, so at least I have a little calm in my storm for now. But I heard a song on the radio the other day that said "every storm runs out of rain..." I can't tell you how much I hope this is true for me! I realize there are worse things in the world...but lately it seems like my storm cloud is full of precipitation. I will gladly welcome a few sunny days here in the near future!
I will keep everyone posted as pre-op day approaches. Thanks again for all the prayers and keep them coming! In the meantime, a few pictures of what keeps me sane...my crazy fun (and always entertaining) family.