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Colon Cancer mets to lungs Stage IV

plopdoll
Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2013

In October, 2009 my husband had his first colonoscopy at age 50. They found a pedunculated polyp that they removed. Pathology said it was cancerous and since the parameters were too close they suggested colorectal surgery. They removed 8 inches of his colon and tested everything including several lymph nodes. All clear, no chemo or radiation, but need follow up in a year. In 2010 had followup colonoscopy and was told all was fine and would not need to be seen for 5 years. In November, 2010 a nodule was found on his prostate tha was biopsied and found to be cancerous. He had the prostate removed and was told everything was clear, no chemo or radiation. He has done all the followup visits and blood work done religiously with the urologist.

In November, 2012 he had ventral hernia surgery. The next day he started coughing. Two weeks later he went to our primary doctor since the coughing had not stopped and nothing over the counter seemed to work. He was given a Z-pack and cough medicine with codeine. This did not work. A week later he went to Centra Care on a Saturday morning. They x-rayed his lungs and gave him some antibiotics and a pill to stop the coughing. This did not work and he went back to the primary doctor as the coughing had become more like choking and sometimes to the point of throwing up. His chest felt heavy and he was sore from what we thought was the constanting coughing/choking, etc. Not much was done at this visit as now an inguinal hernia had appeared from the constant coughing. Surgery was done the next week. They decided the cough might be from the blood pressure medicine with ACE inhibitors. That type of medication was stopped. After surgery, the coughing continued. Another visit to the PCP who decided it must be GERD induced asthma symptoms and he was prescribed some inhalers and a pill for the GERD. A referral was given to go to an ENT and pulmonologist. The ENT could not see him for 3 weeks, the pulmonologist for a month. The ENT put a scope with a camera down his throat, cleaned out his ears and did a hearing test. He was told that he had a slight irritation in one of his nasal passages. He was given some nose spray. No mention that it was GERD but to continue with the GERD medicine, it coudn't hurt. The pulmonologist did an x-ray of the lung and a breathing test. The x-ray of the right lung showed all white. He said that wasn't good. He asked what the x-ray from 2 months before at Centra Care looked like. We didn't know as no one ever said anything. He scheduled a CT scan and wanted the earlier x-ray. Upon examining those he said there was a mass in the right lung and wanted to remove the fluid. They removed almost 6 cups of fluid from the right lung. Pathology said it had clusters of colon cancer and he was told it was stage IV.

What I'm trying to understand is where on earth did the colon cancer come from when he was told they got it all and it was clear after the surgery. Why did it take 3 months for the doctors to figure out what was happening? He was religious in getting his annual physicals done and addressing whatever the problems may have been. He had even quit smoking in 2005. The pulmonologist said it's not operable and he needs to get a PET scan and an MRI done on the brain. He's also referring him to an oncologist. We are dumbfounded by this diagnosis as it wasn't even on our radar. I know we won't know the entire scope of things until we get the scan and MRI done and see the oncologist. Has anyone dealt with this type of recurrance and is it normal? or to be expected? We are just in shock. He's only 53 years old and thought he did everything he needed to do for his health.

janderson1964's picture
janderson1964
Posts: 1572
Joined: Oct 2011

I am sorry that you have to be here but welcome. that is one terrible experience you have gone through. when the surgeon says he got it all he was referring to the tumor but there was most likely most likely rogue cancer cells in his body that current technology could not detect. I have had recurrences. I went over 4 years between the last 2 times. cancer can be a very sneaky disease that can fly under the radar for long periods of time.

annalexandria's picture
annalexandria
Posts: 2200
Joined: Oct 2011

I'm afraid it's not uncommon to have clear scans and scopes after surgery, and then have the cancer recur at a later time.  The technology isn't able to catch a few cancer cells, and as the typical colon tumor is slow growing, it can be under the radar for a long time before being caught.  I totally understand how terrible this all feels.  I've had clean scans, and four recurrences, and it's not fun.    I hope they can get a good plan in place for your husband, and get treatment underway soon.  People do manage even with stage 4 to get to NED (I've been there for 15 months), so don't lose hope just yet.  The pulmonologist isn't the expert in this case.  You need to hear from the oncologist and a good colorectal surgeon to know what is really possible.  Sending strength your way~Ann Alexandria

Chelsea71
Posts: 1170
Joined: Sep 2012

Not too surprised. Many people here have similar stories regarding their diagnosis. I'm sure it came as a shock. It's too bad. Many do well with stage 4 cancer. Make sure your dealing with the best doctors in your area. If you can afford to travel, it may be worth visiting Sloan Ketterling Cancer Treatment Center of America etc....good luck.

Chelsea

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 1418
Joined: Jan 2013

I am so sorry you are travelling this cancer journey, but you have come to the right place for support and information.

I know when I had my bowel resectoin and they told me they had got all the cancer, I thought YAY, I won't have to have chemo. But then the Oncologist explained that cancer cells have to grow to a certain point (so many cells) in order for them to be detected by scans and such. 

It seems that those little devils travelled from your husbands colon into his lungs. I gather the lungs and the liver are favourite nesting places for colon cancer cells.

I am learning to be assertive when I go to my Oncologist appointments. No sitting listening to him talk, I have questions, I want answers. I think that really helps, and the Oncolocgist learned quickly that he dosn't get a quick in and out visit on my cheno treatment days. 

I hope and pray all will go well for your dear husband. You are in our prayers and thoughts. Come here often, questions will be answered for you and support and love shown. 

Blessings!

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