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Monitoring after treatment.

toddpern
Posts: 16
Joined: Mar 2002

Hi,
My friend had colon cancer treatment last year (Feb-Oct) for stage III disease. He's had a colonoscopy in Jan of 2003 and he was disease-free. He went to his oncologist last week and they said all is well so far. They did blood tests. Now he doesn't see his oncologist for another 3 months. Is this typical followup treatment? Should they be doing more? His oncologist said that my friend will know if something's wrong and if he has pain. Isn't that too late to do more tests? Shouldn't they be doing CT scans and CEA levels more often? Please let me know what your post followup treatment was. My friend is only 27, so I have great concern for his safety.
Thx,
Todd

StacyGleaso's picture
StacyGleaso
Posts: 1246
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Todd.

First of all, I need to comment on what a good and concerned friend you are to worry so much as to take the time to get more information. My rectal tumor lead to partial removal of my liver and some lymph nodes. I had a PET scan in July of 2002. My surgery was in January 2002. I had pre-surgery chemo and post surgery chemo. I had my ileostomy reversed in September 2002. I see my oncologist every three months. I initially felt like you did...that was too far inbetween visits, and something could go bad during that time. Then, I figured that I knew when things weren't right, so if I feel remotely concerned, I call my oncologist, and I go in for additional blood draws. Granted, CT and PET scans are a better indicator that something is wrong, but having the blood drawn will give the doctor an indication that something might be wrong if the levels change drastically from the prior draw. I am to have a CT scan annually. I just had one in March, and was also given the "all clear." Does your friend have a port implanted where chemo was received? That gets flushed every three months, and that is usually when the levels in the blood are checked.

Just let him know to alert his physician of anything he feels isn't "normal" for him. No question is too stupid. Rather err on the side of nothing, than to leave something overlooked. I hope this helps. Send him my best. And tell him to keep up the good work!

Stacy

ron50's picture
ron50
Posts: 1260
Joined: Nov 2001

Hi Todd,My treatment was much the same,I was stage 3 with 6 of 13 nodes cancerous. I was diagnosed by scope and had another during chemo because they couldn't get past the tumor. I have had regular scopes one a year ,they removed one small polyp and i'm now on two yearly scopes. I have averaged a ct scan every two years,my surgeon hates them as they are the equivalent of around 600 xrays. I had blood tests every six months to monitor cea and ca19 . I saw my surgeon every three mos for the first two years then 6 monthly. At five years he has just declared me cancer free and cured. he said that statistically if it hasn't metastacised in five years it won't. I have monitored my own health all along and if I have had any concerns I have sought help. Liver was a particular concern for me. Ultrasounds are safe and can pick up most problems. Tell your friend to stay vigilant but just keep doing what he's doing. Good luck,I hope his results are as good as mine Cheers Ron.

spongebob's picture
spongebob
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Morning, Todd -

I have to echo what Staci and Ron say below. I am currently in follow-up for colon cancer and had many of the same concerns you do. I agree with Staci that you are a great friend for being so concerned and taking the initiative to get involved in the network here and ask the tough questions.

Ron is right, CT scans hit your body pretty hard with a lot of radiation so the docs tend to stay away from giving patients too many - especially if he's doing well like your friend seems to be. A follow-up appointment every three months is also normal - I'm in the same routine. Something to remember about colon cancers is that they tend to be slow growing for the most part, so three months isn't unreasonable.

I think that what you're doing is a great thing and your support for your friend will do as much to keep him well as any CT scan can (maybe more!)

Ron - Congratulations on the 5 year window!!

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