CT, MRI determined her tumor was benign—but surgery revealed otherwise

Valerie Powell, a program coordinator with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s department of radiation oncology struggled for eight years trying to figure out why a lump had formed under her jawline, with little help from CT and MRI.

After undergoing multiple scans, her doctors assured her it was an extra piece in her parotid gland and told her not to worry, according to a June 20 report by the UAB News.

Powell wasn’t overly concerned—until she started her program coordinator position with UAB Radiation Oncology and read a salivary gland tumor study. She immediately underwent new CT and MRI scans and had a UAB radiation oncologist look at the new images.

The doctors determined the nodule to be a common benign salivary gland tumor, but implored Powell to get it surgically removed. Once out and pathologically tested, the tumor was found to be malignant.

“I was flooded with questions in my head like, ‘Why did a CT, an MRI and a needle biopsy all confirm that my tumor was benign when it was in fact cancerous?’” Powell said to the UAB News.

After six weeks of daily radiation, Powell finally celebrated her final treatment.

“This was the road that led me to the career I never knew I needed,” she said, “and the career move that saved my life.”

Read Powell’s entire journey in the UAB News story below.