Sep 28, 2010 - 9:37 pm
Let me start off by saying what a wonderful forum this is for people like myself who are having to come to terms with a loved one falling victim to this terrible illness. I have been lurking on this website for the past few weeks or so since my dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.
As I mentioned its been about 3 weeks or so since diagnosis. My dad had been very ill for about 2 weeks prior to diagnosis with indigestion and vomiting and a sensation that food wasn't going down, but other than that he had always been fit and healthy, never smoked a cigarette in his life and was near teetotal, so we are all confused as to why he's fallen victim to this.
On diagnosis the doctors said he had a cancerous tumor of roughly 20cm in length in his esophagus. They then started to carry out all the other tests like CT and PET scans to ascertain the spread.
We've now had the results back and, whilst it has not spread to any other organs, it has spread to the lymph nodes in the stomach and trachea. The doctor will not tell us what stage the cancer is at, just that my dad is not a candidate for surgery. The treatment the hospital has offered is a course of radiotherapy in the hope that hopefully this will shrink the cancer and prolong his life and ease the pain. However, they have been very clear that they are unable to cure him and said prognosis could be anything from a couple of months to a couple of years (at best!).
We live in the UK where we are up against the monolith that is the National Health System. If we were to even get a second opinion this would involve taking him off the NHS and into the private sector which could either delay his treatment on the NHS and at worst prevent him entirely from getting treatment on the NHS (don't even get me started on the NHS!). He's already very ill and can barely get out of bed so we need to be very careful not to delay things.
The NHS basically work on the balance of probabilities - if they have uncertainty whether surgery would be effective they generally disregard it so we naturally do have a certain amount of skepticism as to whether surgery is definitely out of the question. We therefore are thinking of getting a second opinion outside the NHS just to give us peace of mind that we explored all avenues.
However, what I am keen to know is whether anyone has heard/experienced cases where a tumor of the size my dad has (with lymphatic spread to the stomach and trachea) has been successfully surgically removed.
Thanks so much in advance!