Not Curable but Treatable?
I wondered if anyone could help me. Any assistance or suggestions that can be provided would be greatly appreciated.
My mother is 86 years old and was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in February. She had a PET Scan done in February and another PET Scan done recently in August.
The initial PET Scan showed that she had cancer in the mid esophagus area with thickening of the esophageal wall.
However, it also showed that the cancer had spread to a large area of her chest between the lungs and showed multiple enlarged lymph nodes in that area.
The doctor recommended that she have chemo. He didnít want to give her radiation because the cancer had spread to an area near her lungs, and he was afraid that radiation could possibly damage her lungs. He also mentioned that since the cancer had spread outside of the esophagus and due to her advanced age, surgery was not an option.
My mother received the FolFox treatment (Oxaliplatin and Fluorouracil).
She was supposed to get the treatment every other week. However, since chemo was very difficult for her, after the first session, she asked to have treatment once every three weeks. Her doctor did not object.
After 3 sessions of chemo, however, she experienced a major problem with her eye and needed to have surgery. She therefore stopped chemo for 2 months so she could regain her strength and have eye surgery done.
She returned for more chemo after a 2 month break and continued with the Folfox treatment for another 3 sessions. Thus, she had chemo for a total of 6 sessions once every three weeks over about a 5 and a half month period.
She recently had a PET Scan done, and the results were about the same as the PET Scan that was done about 6 months ago. Everything was ďstableĒ or ďnot significantly changedĒ compared to the prior PET Scan.
The index lesion had changed somewhat. The size of the index lesion from the first report and second report was reported as follows:
8/21/2011: 21 x 15 mm (3-253 contrast study)
2/24/2011: 19 x 15 mm (3-129)
The second PET Scan also found that she now has a blood clot in her lung for which the doctor has given her a medicine called Cumaden.
Quite frankly, I have been extremely worried and terrified for quite some time. I had several questions, and if anyone could answer any of them, I would deeply appreciate it.
1. When I asked her doctor about the stage of the cancer, he said it was hard to interpret the results. He guessed that itís somewhere between a stage 3 and a stage 4.
Canít they give a more definite assessment of the stage of the cancer? How does ďstagingĒ take place?
2. My mother was receiving chemo over a 2 and a half day period. In other words, she received chemo at the hospital for about 2 and a half hours or so, then they attached a pump to her which she took home, and she received chemo through the pump for another day and a half.
Is that how chemo is normally given? Iíve heard that most people have chemo over a 4 or 5 day period.
3. The doctor said that overall he thought the second PET Scan indicated good news since the cancer had not spread and it was less active.
Would you agree that this is good news? I was hoping for better results given that she had gone through 6 chemo sessions.
4. Her doctor is not sure what to do next. He said he may try some radiation on her esophagus area but he wanted to consult with another doctor first.
Does anyone have any ideas what could be tried now?
5. From the beginning the doctor mentioned that her condition is not curable, but that it is treatable.
Does anyone think that she can eventually be cured?
6. If her condition is treatable, what would that entail?
In other words, would she have to continually go in for 6 sessions of chemo, have a break for a month or so, and then go in for another 6 sessions of chemo?
That sounds like a very depressing way to live for the little time one has available.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you have any answers or thoughts, I would appreciate hearing from you.