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How to tell if chemo's working?

Posts: 10
Joined: Jan 2004

My brother is starting chemo and I'm wondering how long until they know if it's working....a couple weeks, months? Any thoughts?

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2600
Joined: Apr 2003

Jim -

Everyone is different. They will probably do a CT scan or a PET scan in a couple of months to see if the remaining parts of the tumor are growing, shrinking, or remaining status quo. Another measurement they use is a blood test called CEA. It looks for carcinogen markers in the blood. I should caveat that statem,ent by asying that that test has a lot of room for error.

Patience is a virtue in cancer treatment. Hang tough and keep giving your brother that support (and don't be surprised if he doesn't want it - I know in my case, I wouldn't have wanted people helping me out. Doing so is an "admission" that you're sick).

- SpongeBob

jsabol's picture
Posts: 1156
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Jim,
Read your post re: your brother's situation earlier, and he is lucky to have your concern and whatever help you are able to give him. SB is right, each situation is different with re: to chemo. If there is a specific tumor that they are targeting, than that can be monitored with CT or PET, but chemo is also designed to prevent metatasis to other sites, and as my oncologist says, only time will tell. Why is the oncologist giving him such a specific prognosis while he is still under active treatment? With regards to managing at home alone, each person's response to chemo, and potential side effects, is quite varied. Some side effects (nausea and vomiting) can be managed with meds, while some, like fatigue, may mean your bro needs some extra help with getting meals or having the house cleaned. He may even be able to arrange for rides to chemo if he needs them; his oncologist should have resources for him. Hope your relationship can be strengthened by this. Judy

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