Do hot spots on a cat scan mean you have cancer?

A fellow caregiver asked...

Do hot spots on a cat scan mean you have cancer?

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

In general, CT scans are screening tests.  Just because spots show up on your CT scan, it doesn't mean you have cancer.  To diagnose cancer in those "hot spots", we would have to have the spots biopsied, and the results would have to show cancerous growth. However, if you have already had cancer and are being scanned to see if the cancer has shown up again, then "hot spots" can be more worrisome.  Sometimes, the doctors will do frequent scans to see if the spots grow or change in size, which is a sign they could be cancerous.

Keep in mind that everyone is different.  You will have to have your CT scan reviewed by your health care provider to see what the results mean for you.