Jul 09, 2007 - 11:06 pm
After reading a number of recent posts here, I have some advice for all of us who are survivors of head/neck cancer. I submit it humbly.
I had surg in oct of '05 for head/neck, wherein they replaced half of my tongue with part of my arm, along with some nerves from that same area. Basically, they cut the lower part of my face in half, so that they could get to things, and then also took out some lymph nodes in my neck.
I subsequently underwent 33 rad treatments (dodged two over the holidays :)) and a number of chemotherapy days, designed to clear up any malingerers.
I knew what the chances were for a cure from the time I made my first post-op visit to the surgeon: in my case, after a few years my chances of total cure, according to the pamphlets I read, was 85%, and this would increase to 95% after five years.
In the meantime, I quit smoking prior to surgery, of course, and made my visits to various doctors on the team religiously.
It turns out that in my case, CAT and/or PET scans were NOT part of on-going post-treatment care, which I now find utterly amazing and disappointing. It never occurred to me that such should be the case, admittedly....I relied on the doctors and on the plan.
The plan SHOULD have included, minimially, a CAT scan periodically.
It now appears that my particular cancer has returned to my head/neck AND metastisized into my lungs, although the spots in my lungs are still too small from which to get an accurate diagnosis.
But I am left with the question: had my wife and I not insisted (to our family doctor, no less) that I receive a CAT scan for a nebulous cough, there would be no knowledge at this time that the highly probable potential for cancer recurrance was something that needed to be dealt with immediately.
I suspect that insurance companies are behind 'the plan' and what is permitted and what is not during post-treatment care. I do not fault them, and I do not fault my doctors. There should be some limit on care provided, else none but the very rich could afford healthcare at all.
At the same time, in this case, I strongly advise that you consult with the doctor you trust most and arrange for an approved CAT scan on a periodic basis until you are very comfortable with your more or less absolute cure.
Be advised, please, that I am not whining or blaming, or anything of the sort. I am giving some advice in hindsight that I hope will never be useful to any of you :).
Take care, my friends.