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Dad's Rectal Cancer Treated Overseas

Oceansaway
Posts: 25
Joined: Jul 2009

My Dad was diagnosed with rectal cancer on June 12, 2009 overseas. He had a surgery on June 16. The surgeons told us the surgery was successful. The biopsy came out a week later to show that 4 out 5 lymph nodes were positive, the ends of the resection area were negative, and the cancer cells were moderately differentiated. They put him as Stage IIIC.

Two weeks after the surgery, the doctors gave him a five-day chemo. I had returned to the States because of work here, but understand that the chemo was all IV and there was no pump involved. Two of his main doctors apparently disagree as to whether radiation would be necessary or beneficial. From the literature and the blog information I recently read, here in the States, a Stage III rectal cancer treatment normally starts with radiation and chemo and then surgery and then more chemo. I politely inquired the doctors why they did not do radiation first, their answer was that at the time they thought my dad was only Stage II.

I have so many questions about my Dad's post-surgery treatment and feel particularly bad since I am oceans away from him. But your postings on this website have been nothing but encouraging and hopeful to me. My questions so far are: 1) in your experience, will a radiation in my Dad's case be beneficial. I understand that doing radiation after a rectal resection surgery can be particularly irritating to the digestive system, the skin, and etc. But if it helps reduce the recurrence chance, I would think my Dad should have a try at it. 2) Some people on this site recommended genetic tests to better target effective chemo formula for individual patients. Are those tests available in all major US cancer centers? Are those tests administered by a particular institute so I may access its website and find out if there is a center near my Dad? I want to provide the best cancer treatment environment for my Dad, but as you all know, without insurance, it is financially impossible to have him come to the States for treatment. 3) I am getting the juicing and cancer fighting books you all recommended and will try to organize them into bullet points for my Dad to use. Are there anything else you would suggest that I look into to help my Dad?

Your help will be greatly appreciates. Let's all stay strong and beat this crap!

Fight for my love
Posts: 1530
Joined: Jun 2009

Besides watching your dad's diet,I suggest you to ask doctor to order a vitamin D test for your dad,(it's a easy thing,just done with blood test)because most colon cancer patients are short of vitamin D,this has been proved by lots of research.If your dad's vitamin D is not at an optimum level,then take vitamin D and calcium supplement.This will reduce the chance of recurrence.

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

Radiation is generally given for rectal cancer here (I had it), if not preoperative then postoperative, but beyond that very general observation, I don't see how any of us patients can help you. The doctor who is opposed to giving radiation may have very good reasons. Maybe you could explore the possibility of finding a specialist here who could review your dad's case and make a recommendation. I'm sorry this is so vague.
--Greg

lizzydavis's picture
lizzydavis
Posts: 893
Joined: May 2009

I was diagnosed as Stage 3 Rectal Cancer. I had a colon resection on May 15, 2009. There was no tumor and only minor lymph node involvement. They discussed radiation but after meeting with the tumor board and having an involved discusssion, the consensus was no radiation but a higher dose of Chemo. I feel good about their decision.

lisa42's picture
lisa42
Posts: 3661
Joined: Jul 2008

Hi,

I guess the only suggestion I have for you is to research on the internet "major cancer centers" in the area where your dad is living, or anywhere that might be feasible for him to go. I'm not sure that you ever said where overseas your dad is. If you could be more specific, there might be others on this board who have some info for you. In fact, you might even start a new discussion thread with the title "Does anyone know of good cancer treatment centers near ____?" (you fill in the blank with where he's located).
I'd try that. If that doesn't work, would your dad be up to traveling to the U.S. for treatment? All things to consider- I'm sure it must be very difficult for you to be so far away and not knowing what can be done. I will pray for your dad and also for you that you can help with finding some solutions for his treatment.

You take care & God bless,
Lisa

Oceansaway
Posts: 25
Joined: Jul 2009

Thank you all for your responses. They are helpful. I am going to take Lisa's suggestion and post a new topic to inquire about good cancer treatment centers in China.

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

Well, I can only contriubte what happened to me and here it is:

In my case, I had colorectal cancer at almost the very end of the rectum, really close. So close that I was just millimeters away from a colostomy and there was very little margin to work with.

So, the plan was to start 5fu on 24/7 for a week and also to begin radiation at the same time. After the 1st week, I was off the chemo (then) and did 25 radiation treatments over 5 weeks...the last week they hooked up to the portable chemo for another 24/7 week.

The "issue" in my case was they were trying to shrink the tumor, so they could do a bowel resection MINUS the colostomy. And since we had millimeters to work with, it was pretty shaky from the get go, but I was determined not to have the colostomy, so I understood it and away we went.

Radiation shrank the tumor and we waited 6 weeks to heal and then the bowel resection without a colostomy was a success! Of course, the radiation did a number on me and wrecked me internally and it was a couple of years before the bowel would even calm down.

It's been 5 years since then and my bowel has just recently tried to act its best that it can from what's it been through.

I had metastasis and it went to my liver...and now may have spread to my lung.

They did not want to do radiation after the surgery because it would have been worse. If I had a choice, I would start with radiation but not end with it.

That's what I learned...hope it can be of some value to you in making your decision.

-Craig

taraHK
Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

I just replied to your other 'china' post. Sorry I missed this one.

As I mentioned in that post, I was diagnosed with rectal cancer, which ended up to be Stage III. I had presurgical chemoradiation, then surgery, then postsurgical chemo. I had 6 mos chemo (2 before, 4 after surgery) altho I think these days some have chemo for longer after the surgery.

Yes, radiation can be difficult -- can cause diarrhea, fatigue, skin soreness. But all those symptoms do go away after the radiation is finished!

Do you know what chemo he is on? 5FU is the old standard. These days many are having FOLFOX (5FU plus oxalitplatin).

It is possible to get a consultation/second opinion from another centre (overseas). Some may insist on seeing the patient but perhaps some would be willing to do a "chart review" long distance.

I am sure it is very frustrating to be managing all this long distance.

Wishing you all the best

Tara

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