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Prevention

Eltina21's picture
Eltina21
Posts: 174
Joined: May 2010

Hello again everyone.
I have finished 5 rounds of chemotherapy and I have 7 to go. I saw my doctor last week and I asked her how do we know that the chemotherapy is working. She said to me that I was basically cancer free and that the chemotherapy is for prevention. Has anyone else been told this? Although they had removed the tumor in the sigmoid colon and 8 surrounding lymph nodes, one of the removed lymph nodes was positive. I am also dinking Ensure now in addition to eating for everything tastes like tin and I lost some weight. Thanks.

Peace and Blessings,

Karen

abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 2131
Joined: Mar 2010

"Adjuvant" chemo is common - all tumor is gone, no indications remain.

I had 7 of 12 rounds of chemo, knowing that there was nothing to track that would show if the chemo was beneficial. In my case, even less is known about the potential effect of chemo, as my primary tumor was appendiceal, and that responds differently from colon cancer. I quit because regardless of whether or not my cancer comes back, they'll never know if the chemo had any effect on outcome. For colon cancer, the indicators are good that this chemo will prevent or delay recurrence.

John23's picture
John23
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

Once you're in fear of the cancer within, even the most damaging things
to your body will sound good, if any cure is even remotely suggested.

Chemo never was a "proactive" or "preventative" medicine, it was only
designed to kill cells that are growing faster than their surrounding cells.
Chemo also often kills more good cells than cancer cells due to it's
inability to distinguish between a fast growing good cell and cancer.

This topic was beaten to a pulp on several previous threads, so rather
than beat it some more, simply ask -another- oncologist if you should
get chemo right now to prevent future, different cancers from growing.
Ask also, if all chemotherapy drugs are themselves, carcinogenic and
are noted to cause "second cancers".

If chemotherapy was a preventative medicine, we'd have kids
getting inoculated at birth. Life would be nice, if it was that easy.

Karen, I would get another oncologist's opinion, and you should have
a qualified colorectal surgeon to call on.

The accepted amount of lymph nodes to remove for testing is set
at 21 or more. Less than than 20 does not afford the proper diagnostic
ability to set an accurate prognosis. That information is readily available,
and has been posted numerous times on this forum.

I don't mean to scare you, but you should be made aware of the facts!

Don't be afraid to get other, outside opinions; It's your life and you
owe yourself the best.

You'll be fine, but please see another qualified physician?

(a colorectal surgeon, is best)

John

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abrub's picture
abrub
Posts: 2131
Joined: Mar 2010

It's too small to be seen, and as yet too small to affect CEA, but left alone, it will grow back. Hence adjuvant chemo to hopefully kill those cells before they grab hold.

HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

I think nodes are an organ. They're part of the lymphatic system. Little kidney shaped organs. Lymph nodes tend to swell if there is a nearby infection, because the lymph nodes are involved in the immune system's fight against the infection

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HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

I wish I could answer that question. Why does the organ have to be bigger to call it stage IV?

PhillieG's picture
PhillieG
Posts: 4907
Joined: May 2005

When you are dealing with something on a cellular level, it's often wise to make sure that nothing got away during surgery. When I had my initial surgery and they took out a large portion of my liver then placed a HAI pump which gave chemo directly into the liver to mop up any remaining cancer cells even though "they removed all of the cancer" as I was told by my surgeons. I am glad that I did the direct chemo and systemic chemo. I have had no problems with my liver or colon since Sept 04. I don't think that the cells have to be in lymph nodes in order to spread. You're really just talking one rogue cell in the billions of cells our bodies contain.

As far as your other question Kathy, I'm afraid I don't node the answer. I thought I node it but I don't.
;-)
-p

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Madre's picture
Madre
Posts: 124
Joined: Apr 2008

My oncologist told me the same thing, but he did add that because I did have positive lymph nodes (4 to be exact) cancerous lymph nodes were in my lymph system, which runs through your whole body. The cancer and tumor were gone from my colon. They would hope all the cancer was gone, but know one can ever be 100% sure. I did the chemo because the thinking was/is to prevent those lymph nodes from depositing someplace else and making cancer someplace else. I finish chemo in October 2008, have had CT scans every 6 months to rule out mets to my liver & lungs, and blood test regularly. I was just told no more scans unless a problem comes up. I have been seeing my surgeon every 3 months and at my 1 year colonoscopy she found "bumps" that were not polyps and not cancer but needed to be removed (this happened twice already). So not sure if the surgery cured me or the chemo did but 2 years 3 months NED.

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PGLGreg's picture
PGLGreg
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

"Has anyone else been told this?" Yes, Karen, many of us have been told this. After my operation for rectal cancer, so far as my doctors knew, I was cancer free. But they also knew that the chance of the cancer coming back was substantial. I had 6 weeks of radiation and chemo treatments as a preventative measure, to reduce the chances of the cancer returning. There isn't any doubt that this kind of prevention does reduce the chance that the cancer will return. However, there isn't any way to know for sure that you needed the preventative therapy, because even without it, you might have been lucky. There isn't any guarantee it will work -- you're just improving your odds. There isn't any way to know the prevention is working -- only a way to tell that it didn't work, if the cancer comes back.

So, keep up with the chemo. And cross your fingers.

--Greg

sasjourney
Posts: 395
Joined: Jul 2010

I have just finished 7 rounds and have 5 to go. They removed the tumors (colon, lymph nodes, small spot on liver) and just had another PET scan that was normal. My oncologist said that I am cancer free, but this is for prevention. I often wonder if the chemo is doing more harm because the last one was very tough on me and my blood pressure is now high and was never high before. I am also losing weight from the upset stomach and terrible taste in my mouth. Of course, there is also the neuropathy. I know 12 rounds is the number that their studies have shown, but who really knows if that is correct. Each person is so different and responds differently, but I don't want to have regrets later for not completing the treatment.

Hang in there-

HollyID's picture
HollyID
Posts: 951
Joined: Dec 2009

I've been thinking on what to say regarding this thread.

How do we know chemo is working? Well, I got CEA's drawn every month during chemo. They kept going down, so I was assuming chemo was working. I also believe I was cancer free after the surgery, but I wanted assurance that I could do everything I could to NOT have it come back. I hate cancer, and most of all, I hate it in people.

They only removed 11 lymph nodes on me with one being positive. When I asked my oncologist if that was enough lymph nodes to make a reasonable prediction of pathology, he reported that it was indeed enough. When I questioned that I'd read that a person should have at least 20, he reassured me that 11 were definitely enough since only one was positive.

I was really wishing you could have an easier time with the taste bud thing. It sucks to taste tin all the time. I jokingly asked my onc what was the problem with my chemo because I didn't lose a pound. I was hoping for about a 50 lb weight loss. He said he would have freaked. He might have freaked, but I would look great 50 lbs lighter. LOL

Keep up the good fight. Remember that even though you and your surgeon think you're cancer free... you just want to be sure.

I have a few side effects from the oxi, but it's so much easier to live with knowing you did everything in your power to make sure cancer won't rear it's ugly head again.

John23's picture
John23
Posts: 2140
Joined: Jan 2007

You might be interested in this:

http://csn.cancer.org/node/193882

Be well; stay well!

John

Eltina21's picture
Eltina21
Posts: 174
Joined: May 2010

Dear Holly,
I truly thank you and everyone for the information. I just feel like you are my soul sister for we are so much alike. I am trying to eat more and I chew on natural ginger, from the health food store to cut down on the tin taste. I continue to think positive, walk daily, and take my vitamins. I still work daily except on chemo days. I have told this body that cancer is not welcome here. Thanks again, keep smiling and have a great day.

Peace and Blessings,
Karen

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