Cancer has spread even with 3 rounds of chemotherapy

My dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer at the end of September 2011. He started chemo infusions in October, every three weeks with chemo pills daily in between. In November, he was admitted into the hospital due to severe dehydration and a stint was put in so he could eat and drink by mouth. He was vomiting everything that he ate or drank.

On Christmas Eve 2011, he was admitted again into the hospital because he had fallen. He was progressively getting worse and lost over 50 pounds. After a CT scan was done, we found out the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes and liver and is inoperable due the extent of the spread of his cancer. The doctors told us that they have never seen the cancer spread especially after 3 rounds of chemo therapy.

Has anyone else experienced this? We thought we caught it early because it was a small tumor in his esophagus, now it has spread and spread quickly. His only other option is more chemotherapy plus radiation but because of his physical condition, this is not an option at this time. He already has a j tube placed but his muscle mass is not returning. Any suggestions on this? I know I'm looking for answers but we did not expect this to happen. We thought after the chemotherapy, he would have the operation to remove the tumor.

He is going home today with hospice care.


  • JReed
    JReed Member Posts: 428
    Cancer has spread
    I'm trying very hard to remember exactly what you wrote about your father. Diagnosed in September, chemo via IV and pill.

    What tests did he have done to stage the cancer prior to chemo? Was radiation prescribed? If not, do you know why not?

    What area is your father located in? Who is the surgeon and who is the chemo oncologist?

    You have come to the right place for help - we have many good people who are patients, caregivers, and family and someone has more than likely experienced what you are dealing with. I ask the questions, because I know that in order for them to properly answer you they will need this information.

    Please know that we do feel your pain, shock, and disbelief and if there is any help - you will find it here.

    wife of Don
    Diagnosed 11-21-2011
    Stage 3 T3N1M0
    chemo and radiation treatment currently (started Jan. 4, 2012)
    surgery to follow in approximately two months
  • Cindy Bear
    Cindy Bear Member Posts: 569
    I am so sorry to hear this news and my thoughts and prayers go out to you and your Dad. I have heard many people say that hospice is a godsend and people can live under hospice care a long time, and even have some quality of life.
    I am shocked that your Dad's dr. would say that he's never seen this happen. It does happen, and it's not all that uncommmon. It happened to my mom (uterine cancer) She had 4 rounds of chemo, and a midpoint catscan that was "basically Good" 5 wks later she was dying and the NP shrugged her shoulders and said, "I guess the treatments weren't working" Either the cancer is aggressive and resistant to chemo from the get go or the cancer mutates and becomes resistant and spreads.
    Big hugs,
  • Tina Blondek
    Tina Blondek Member Posts: 1,500 Member
    Your Dad
    Hello Jose and welcome to you and your dad. We are here to help you anytime, any day. I was a caregiver for my dad, Ray. He fought a hard 16 month battle with EC, but lost it when it went to his liver. EC is an agressive cancer, but if caught early, and patient can have surgery, it is curable. By the time my dad was dx, it was at a stage IV. My dad was misdiagnosed with acid reflux, hiatal hernia, acid indegestion, etc for many many years. It is very unfortunate that this has happened to your dad, but you are both very fortunate to have hospice. Hospice is wonderful. They will help you to understand what is happening and why, and what to do about it. They will help you to understand what the next step or the next phase of your dad's journey will be. You dad will now be put on palliative care. Which means his pain will be managed. It is not a cure, but it will prolong his life. You have to watch out for the signs of his quality of life. His quality of life is much more important than his quanity of life. Always go with your gut feelings. You will both know when enough is enough. Let your dad be in control of his treatments, tests, etc. Let it be his choice. Hang in there, you are doing a wonderful job taking care of him. Your dad knows you are. Keep in touch.
    Tina in Va
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  • ritawaite13
    ritawaite13 Member Posts: 236
    Hi Jose
    Welcome to this board of amazing knowledgeable people. The questions and answers you will get here will be honest (sometimes a hard thing to accept) and caring. No cancer is a good cancer but this one is especially tough. It can be beaten if caught early enough but typically doesn't show symptoms until it's more advanced. Chemo doesn't always work and neither does radiation. Surgery is the only cure but like the others have said, the staging of your dad's cancer would dictate whether or not he's a candidate for surgery. Unfortunately my husband was diagnosed stage IV so surgery was never an option. He lived just 15 weeks after diagnosis so yes, this can be an extremely aggressive cancer. Many other stage IV's have fared better - with or without treatments and some have had even shorter battles with this beast.
    Come to this site often and ask all the questions you want. You will learn more here than you can imagine and you will be welcomed by a wonderful group.
    Hugs to you,