Marty's Journey

Major Milestone Today - 3 Month PET Scan

When Marty's treatment ended 3 months ago, doctors said his first PET scan would show for sure whether his tumor is gone. Today is that scan.

When Marty's treatment for HPV-related throat cancer ended three months ago, his doctors said they could no longer see the tumor at the base of his tongue on a CT scan.

That good news came with a caveat: the doctors wouldn't really know if Marty's cancer was gone until he had his first follow up PET scan at three months, and today is the day for that scan.

Marty and Kristine had a message for his fans as the couple went into Shadyside hospital this morning: thank you for your prayers and support through his battle against cancer. "It's scary," admitted Kristine. "We hope it's gone." Marty vowed his fans will know the full results as soon as he and Kristine do. "In the interest of honesty, we're not going to hide anything now," promised Marty.

Here's some background on why today is so important.

Marty's radiation oncologist Dr. David Clump told us on Marty's final day of treatment on October 29: "The tumor has gone away," as indicated by a CT scan. "It's shrunk," along with an affected lymph node in Marty's neck.

Dr. David Clump delivers the good news.

But Dr. Clump cautioned then that he couldn't predict any long-term prognosis until he sees results the three-month PET scan being done today. In October he predicted that if all goes well, when he sees the PET scan results, "we expect that (the tumor) will be 'non-avid,' which means that the cancer cells will have been eliminated," he said.

Dr. Robert Ferris, Director of the Hillman Cancer Institute agreed that today's PET scan is an important milestone in Marty's recovery. "It turns out that head and neck cancer is sensitive to a radiation and chemotherapy," he explained during our interview in October. This is why that initial CT scan on the final day of treatment showed the tumor was gone. "Even if it's not cured the first couple months the tumor will shrink and disappear," Dr. Ferris said. The three-month PET scan, he explained, will typically give doctors and patients more definitive evidence of whether a tumor is gone.

Dr. Robert Ferris has lead Marty's treatment team from the start.

Stay with us throughout the day as Marty goes through his tests and watch here for the results as they are available.

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