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newbie, please help

Posts: 33
Joined: Jun 2005

My pa was dx with a colonrectal ca. about 2 weeks ago. We went too see a colon rectal specialist/surgeon who deals with cancer tumors. His recommendation to my pa was to do 5 wks of chemo and radiation before surgery to shrink tumor first (size at this time is about 7-8 cm)He said the tumor was low lyeing and if he did surgery first cells could move quickly to other parts of body. HE would have better success to remove tumor if it was smaller.he also mentioned some surgeons may just go in and perform surgery first however he thought that would be a mistake becouse it was low lyeing. How does a person handle so much chemo and radiation for 5wks with weekends off? My pa will have a ct done on Monday to check for metastasis to other organs and a cea. Does anyone have any thoughts about this? The Dr. has over 35 year exp. in colorectal surgery/cancer and is located at the Univesity of Illinois at Chicago. My pa is 64. Are there anything i should be aware of that my pa will go through physicaly with radiation and chemo? please help thanks so much

Posts: 186
Joined: Nov 2004

Sorry to hear about your dad...that kind of news is a shocker isn't it? I can't speak from personal experience, but only from helping my wife during her treatments over the last eight months. Unlike your dad, my wife had surgery first, then chemo/radiation (this wasn't an option for her because it had spread so bad). She started out on a combination of chemo and radiation together, and couldn't tolerate it. So the doctor gave her a month off and started over with just radiation. She completed 23 of 30 prescribed treatments, once a day, five days a week. At first it wasn't too bad, but the effects of the treatment are cummulative and after awhile they were pretty painful (on the inside of her lower abdomen and pelvic area). Made her pretty sick toward the end of it.

Then another month off to heal and the chemo started. She was able to do three of six treatments (folfiri) before that made her really sick. Then (thank God) a PET scan came back clear and the dr said she could stop treatments for now.

I've heard from others here on this site (and they are GREAT people!) about good success with what you're describing: treatments to reduce the tumor, then surgery.

Keep in touch and let us know how things go, and the best of luck to your dad and you. Don't forget to take good care of yourself too.


Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

What you are describing is what I had. I was diagnosed with a low-lying tumour (rectal, in my case). I had 5 1/2 weeks of chemoradiation, then a break of about 5 weeks (this gives time for the tissue to heal, while the radiation is still working), then surgery. In my case, I had more chemo after the surgery. Having chemoradiation is now pretty standard for rectal tumours. Yes, it does mean going 5 days a week for radiation, with only weekends off. Everyone is different in terms of how they react to the treatment. In my case, it was not too bad. I had some fatigue, and some nausea. I had also had some skin reaction (like a burn) to the radiation. But, that resolved. Wishing you and your dad all the best. Take care of yourself.

Posts: 30
Joined: Nov 2003

I am sorry about your dad having rectal cancer. My husband was diagnosed on January 7 2002. He was 71 at the time and had a tumor about 7cm from the anal verge. I don't recollect if we ever knew the size of the tumor - it wasn't huge and it wasn't small. Anyway, he went through about 8 weeks of a chemo/radiation regimen and did very well. He had a chemo pump and was on 5FU. He didn't get sick from the chemo until the last week or so. He didn't complain of any pain from the radiation. He did have an ultrasound to see how far the tumor had penetrated into the rectum and it was noted that at least one lymph node was involved then. At surgery, there were 4 of 6 lymph nodes involved. Anyway, the surgeon and oncologist both said that sometimes the tumors shrink so much that they nearly go away and sometimes they don't reduce much at all. I think in my husband's case, the tumor really didn't shrink too much. It's a crap shoot (no pun intended). Anyway, your dad's age shouldn't have much to do with how well he tolerates the treatment. My husband also had a number of health issues (diabetes, HBP, chronic kidney failure, congestive heart failure, arthritis) and he tolerated the treatment pretty well. My husband was on a really strong diuretic and they warned him that the diuretic would be tough to handle with the radiation and chemo, so we stopped it and it turned out he really didn't need such a strong diuretic after all. That's all I can think of about the pre-surgery chemo/radiation stuff my husband went through.
I think it sounds like your dad is in pretty good hands. I wish your family the best.

Posts: 33
Joined: Jun 2005

I spoke with my pa surgeon today, he said pa will start radiation next week with chemo 5fu. He told me to ask them as many questions as possible.I will start making a list of questions but could you tell me what 5fu stands for?

HisJoy's picture
Posts: 115
Joined: Feb 2005

5FU is another name for the anti-cancer drug, fluorouracil (flu-ro-UR-uh-sil). It has been a standard in chemotheraphy for colon cancer for many years.

StacyGleaso's picture
Posts: 1248
Joined: Mar 2003

Sorry to hear about your dad. I was only 33 when I went through my diagnosis, and that was in 2001. I was stage 4, and today I am cancerfree. I had 6 weeks of chemo and radiation, and then my surgery, followed by more chemo. I had my surgery done at the University of Chicago. Dr. Fabrizio Michelassi, who was one of the top surgeons in the world. He now is at Cornell in New York.

Couple of things that would be helpful to your dad:
1.) Get a port for chemo. It will spare his veins.
2.) Keep spirits up. I know it's hard, but take each day at it comes. There are days he will feel like conquering the world, and other days when lounging around the house seems like a wonderful idea.
3.) If you're never fully aware of what the doctors are telling you, keep asking questions. The internet is a great source of information, but every person is different, and what works for one, may not work for another. Trust your instincts.

Keep us posted. We are a close knit group of people who understand everything you and your dad are experiencing.

All my best,

Posts: 33
Joined: Jun 2005

Is a port a pump?

ramona41's picture
Posts: 72
Joined: Jul 2004

hi and welcome. sorry you and your family has to go thru this but this is a very caring place to come to for help. I was 41 last year when I found out I had a tumor mine was pretty low too. I had chemo and radiation but after the surgery.. I was tired from chemo and some burn from the radiation but like others have said it goes away. Talk to the doctors..take someone else with you to help remember everything. take it one day at a time. I had a couple bad weeks with radiation and had to take a week off. make sure your dad tells the doctor how he really feels they can help.. and yes take care of yourself.. I will keep you both in my prayers .. hang in there.. peace..Ramona

radsie's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Jun 2005

So sorry about your Dad. However as others have stated here, he should do fine. I had the some condition, and my surgeon recommended chemo and radiation before surgery and chemo after. I received the chemo 24/7 for 6 weeks and radiation for about the same amount of time. I was 46 at the time and I did get extremely tired the last week or so of the treatments and a radiation burn on a body part that I really wish had not got burnt. ;-) However if your Dad gets the port that was recommended, watch for blood clots. My nurse who came each week to change the chemo noticed my arm was swollen and I needed to go to the hospital. I told her she was crazy but she insisted so I went to the ER. Glad I did as she was right, I had developed a blood clot in my arm. Who knows what would have happened had I not gone. Anyway good luck to your Dad and keep the faith.

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