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littlejulie's picture
Posts: 311
Joined: Mar 2004

It was mentioned to my mother once that the doctor thought her tumor was there from 6-9 months before diagnosis. A friend of the family was told his tumor was there for 10 years before diagnosis but they are both in the same stage!

My questions are...

Were anyone of you told how long the tumor was there for?

Can doctors tell how long the tumor was there for?

Does it mean my mothers is very agressive? (If she had it for only 6-9 months and others had a tumor for up to 10 years but are in the same stage - this worries me.)


spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Good morning, Julie -

My docs told me I had had my tumors for about 3-4 years. My cancer was a type 4 - cancers are "typed" 1-5 according to their aggressiveness (or so said my doc); 1 being the least aggressive and 5 being the most.

As I understand it, Colon Cancer is typically slow growing, but there are different types. That's why it can happen that someone can have "colon cancer" for years and it goes unnoticed while someone can have it for a matter of months before they're advanced case patients. The staging (0-4) of cancer is an indication of where the cancer has invaded:

0 - would be a polyp, pre-cancerous.
1 - fully contained within an organ.
2 - invasion outside of that organ.
3 - invasion into the lymph nodes (also known as the cancer super-highway since the lymphatic system - which is similar to your circulatory system - can carry the cancer cells anywhere in the body
4 - the same cancer has moved to another part of the body and invaded it.

Sometimes folks get lucky and they carry around a tumor for years and it doesn't grow all that fast or it doesn't feel like bothering other organs, or it doesn't get an opportunity to get into the lymph nodes, etc.

Just like chemo treats everyone else differently so do the various cancers that people contract.

How exactly the docs go about dating a tumor I couldn't tell you - maybe they have annual rings like trees? Maybe they can carbon date them? Maybe, as with horses, they can look attheir teeth.

Jana - have I completely rewritten the medical books or am I pretty close to correct - for a layman?

- SpongeBob

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004

SB earns an MD!! Bravo. The 1 & 2 classification concerns which layers of the colon are involved, but pretty darn close!

Just a personal opinion on the dating of tumors... and I am NOT an oncologist... but I think docs are FOS if there are telling people the tumors have been there for years, I don't think we can know that. This is nothing more than a slightly educated opinion... but, the dating doesn't matter.... what truely matters is to get treatments now and aim for cure!


littlejulie's picture
Posts: 311
Joined: Mar 2004

LOL!!!! Jana - I AGREE 100%. I think doctors are FOL!!! Maybe they are dealing with too many colons ;)

Going through this whole process I developed a love/hate for doctors. When I hear them say how long the tumor has been there for - the HATE come out.

thanks jana & SB.

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Oh... and for the record, I don't date tumors (anymore)

I date one once - very briefly - but my family and friends never really accepted her and all she did was use me.


- Jilted in Jacksonville

Lisa Rose's picture
Lisa Rose
Posts: 597
Joined: Mar 2003

Hi Julie,

I was told my tumor was in me 5 years. At that time I would have only been 35 years old. Scary Thought! ! !

Posts: 835
Joined: Apr 2004

Spot on stuff above. There are studies (including animal studies that they try to generalise to humans) that have looked at how long on average it takes for a polyp to become cancerous and then spread and the geenral conosensus is years. Being any more specific thatn that is purely guess work based on sparce info. there arte other measures about how aggressive a tumour generally is including the degree of differentiation in teh cells- highly differentiated tumours are generally less agressive than poorly differeantiated ones.

Don't beleive everything the docs say (and that comes from a doc)- there are many aoutthere who don't know the term 'I don't know' and will often talk crap in preference to admitting that they don't know the answer to something.

Do remember thought that gebnerally docs are on your side and have you best interest in mind but hey are human and have faults like the rest of us.

Hope this helpful,

littlejulie's picture
Posts: 311
Joined: Mar 2004

that helped more than you know! thanks steve

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