Sep 01, 2012 - 1:32 pm
I wanted to ask for your kind help again.
My mother is 87 years old, and has esophageal cancer. According to her oncologist, the PET Scan showed that the cancer existed in lymph nodes along the trachea (windpipe) and near the lungs.
My mother’s cancer was diagnosed about a year and a half ago.
For about a year, she received chemo. Throughout this period, the cancer never spread.
However, since the chemo was causing difficulties for her, she stopped having chemo.
She then had radiation for 3 weeks in order to improve her swallowing.
The radiation produced great results since many of the cancer cells in the esophagus were killed or became dormant.
However, my mother stopped treatment a while back.
She stopped having chemo about 7 months ago, and her radiation treatment stopped 6 months ago.
The oncologist did another PET Scan recently which showed that, despite not receiving treatment for 7 months, the cancer has not spread.
However, the PET Scan showed that the cancer in the esophagus had become more active.
The oncologist started chemo again this week. This time instead of receiving Leucovorin, Oxaliplatin and 5 FU, she was only given Leucovorin and 5 FU.
However, my mother is already having serious difficulties with side effects and does not want to continue with chemo.
I think she is having more difficulties with chemo than before partly due to the fact that the chemo she received for about a year and the radiation have made her very weak.
Also, over the past nine months, she gradually lost about 15 pounds. She has no appetite and eats very little.
The oncologist thinks her loss of appetite is due to the cancer, and believes that as the chemo knocks down the cancer, her appetite will improve.
However, I think it is mostly due to her depression. Aside from this dreadful disease, she has no friends or social contacts and is very isolated and lonely.
I wanted to ask 3 questions.
1. Can’t the oncologist try something else aside from chemo which makes my mother ill?
I have read on the internet about being tested for the HER-2 gene and about a drug named Tarceva that can sometimes be effective. Would that help?
Is there anything aside from chemo that could be tried?
2. I don’t have the slightest understanding of medicine so I don’t dare ask the oncologist this question.
Can they try to remove a small portion of the tumor from the esophagus? (Not the esophagus but a small bit of the tumor).
I know that would not be a cure, that the cancer cells would continue to remain in the esophagus, etc.
But perhaps that would improve her swallowing, and remove some of the cancer cells so that she may not need to have chemo done for another six months or so rather than on a regular basis.
3. Has anyone tried any anti-depressants? If so, can you kindly let me know what has worked for you?
I would greatly appreciate hearing any advice, information or ideas.
Thank you very much for your kind help!