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Early Stage IV colon cancer...

Posts: 3
Joined: Oct 2010

Hello, my sister was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. The tumor was located in the ascending colon and had spread to her liver. We were told there was just a spot on her liver, nothing too much. She just recently had a right hemicolectomy to remove the tumor, lymph nodes etc.. The spot on her liver is still there- they would not operate on it while they were doing the operation on her colon. The chemo wont be starting untill 6 weeks after the operation (the operation was yesterday). They will still have to discuss what they will be doing to the liver spot. I can't help but read statistics online..and I see that the prognosis for stage 4 colon cancer does not look good. I know everyone is different..but is most of this information based on being diagnosed without operation or treatment, or what? Anyways.. my sister is 52 and in overall good health (minus the cancer situation).. Is there anyone who was diagnosed with early stage 4, got an operation..did some chemo and was fine?

jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

Most of the information online is not current. There are so many new chemo's and other treatments that are new, even to me. I had stage 4 to the liver in '05, and I am still cancer free after 5 years. Just make sure that your sister is in a large teaching hospital with doctors who know what they are doing. A second opinion is never a wrong decision. My surgery was done all at once removing 3 tumors on my liver and resecting my colon in transverse area, as well as removing many lymph nodes.
Good luck on having the best medical experience you sister can have. Let us know how she is doing. Jo Ann

Nana b's picture
Nana b
Posts: 3045
Joined: May 2009

Just as your sister but had two mets to the liver. Had a liver resection and have been in remission 1 year 1 month.

Hang in there and ask away!

maglets's picture
Posts: 2585
Joined: Jun 2006

Hello Sally...I am very sorry about your sister. I had my colon resection in 2005 followed by chemo. Then I had mets to the liver twice so I have had two liver resections followed by chemo both times. I am still going Sally and there are plenty of stage IV's here on this forum.

I think that most of us agree that the stats mean very little and at times can be just plain more frightening than they are worth. do not worry about the delay between surgery and chemo....6 weeks does not sound like a long time. Your sister needs time to rest and heal. One step at a time. Her liver met may shrink with chemo....you just won't know until your sister gets started on her chemo.

In the meantime sending best wishes and hugs for her speedy recovery

yes it can be done!!!


pepebcn's picture
Posts: 6352
Joined: Aug 2010

not easy through but of course possible to get out!
Just strength, lots of strength .
Cheer up and wellcome to the board!

Lori-S's picture
Posts: 1287
Joined: Sep 2010

I am sorry that you and your sister are going through this but, I want to welcome you to the forum. There are many people here who can help with your questions. Wishing you both the best of luck!

PGLGreg's picture
Posts: 741
Joined: Jul 2006

Sally asks: "Is there anyone who was diagnosed with early stage 4, got an operation..did some chemo and was fine?"

Since there was no surgery on the liver metastasis, no, I don't recall hearing of such a case. It's possible, but usually, there has to be surgery on the liver, after and in addition to chemo, for a cure. So I'd guess your sister will need a liver resection, sometime in the future.


John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007

Sally -

There really isn't any such thing as "early stage IV". Stage
IV is about as late as we can get; there is no "stage V".
(It's like saying: "I'm a little pregnant")

Your sister really should get another opinion from a qualified
colorectal surgeon. The liver tumor should be removed, and
the decision to do or not do chemo weighed in depth.

Survival rates are better after a compete removal of cancer tumors,
than cancer tumors only treated with chemo or radiation.

As far as "statistics"? I make no friends here saying this, but the
statistics have not changed in over 40 years. About 26% of us
will survive colorectal cancer, give or take a few percentage points.
The amount of time varies from diagnosis to death, and living 15 or
more years is possible, but the "bottom line" is that the statistical
records that show that people that get colorectal cancer rarely
fare well.

It takes an average of 1.5 to 2 years for a cancer cell to grow
large enough to be identified. Modern science has made it possible
to identify a cell that's turned cancerous sooner/earlier, and treatment,
or surgery can be sooner. But the statistical odds of an overall
survival of the type of cancer remains the same.

There are very, very few (if any) chemicals different than the ones
that have been used for years. Many "new" chemo (chemicals) are
simply re-formulations and re-licensed old chemicals. They reach
the end of their patent period, and the companies change part
of the formula, often re-naming the chemicals, and re-patent
it under a different name. (you can easily look all that up for

Many of us are still around well beyond the prognosis. Some of us
did the surgery and chemo/radiation, etc... and others of us did
surgery and an alternative.

I am starting my fourth year after surgery, having surgery alone,
and using imported medicinal strength Chinese herbs. Others here
have gone surgery, and used "juicing" and other immune system
building techniques to fight cancer.

Does it work? Or are we part of that 26% that make it? Or....
are we just kidding ourselves, as the cancer lurks and grows
as silently as it initially did?

What about chemo? Is that group part of the 26% that makes it?
Or are they kidding themselves as the cancer lurks and grows as
silently as it initially did?

They told me that my tumor was so large, that it could have
taken 7 or 8 years to grow that big. There were absolutely no
indication of anything wrong, for those 7 or 8 years...... I was
"NED" as they like to call it; but it almost killed me. Cancer grows
silently, and not having signs of it, does not mean you don't have it.

The statistics do not lie, and they have not changed. Your sister
should get another opinion from a colorectal surgeon that is not
part of the same organization or association, and if possible,
not of the same locale...

Give her my best!

And please, stay healthy for her.


jams67's picture
Posts: 927
Joined: May 2006

John, I know you mean well, but your post is not very helpful or encouraging to any of us. Remember that many people are only diagnosed after death and have gotten no medical treatment. I really don't believe that the new treatments are no better than the old. The new scans can pinpoint very small areas that are active tumors. Avastin has helped many improve. My GI doc said he had people in everyday who had survived for years with no reoccurance.
I have many friends who have had stage iv colon cancer and are doing very well. With good treatment and vigilence, we can rise above that percentage mark. I for one, refuse to be stamped with an expiration date.
Hugs to all,
Jo Ann

HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

thank you for all your feedback

Posts: 210
Joined: Aug 2008

wow john you are really a downer. i will disagree with your comments. i happen to work in healthcare and see stage IV patients who are considered cured from colorectal cancer. it happens, and more often than you think. the diagnosis showed one spot on the liver. maybe chemo alone wont cure it, but it is very possible it is resectable and thus curable. you should read dr lenzs blog. he talks about how stage Iv has become curable for more and more people, and even is working on a new drug about to be tested that is showing great promise for shutting down stem cells.. you may also have noticed that there are new guidelines making subdivisions within stage IV recognizing that there indeed IS an early stage IV.

herdizziness's picture
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

Sorry John, screw your old statistics and idea of no "new" chemo. Xeloda... dude.
Don't be so darn quick to kill us all off. Sorry dude, not in that coffin yet, so quit digging the hole for it.

John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007

"Sorry John, screw your old statistics and idea of no "new" chemo. Xeloda... dude."

Xeloda Patent: 1998

More Patent info: http://www.faqs.org/patents/app/20080300399

We can all gain more by studying reality, than dreaming. The industry
isn't going to change it's course, if we ignore it's stagnancy.

"Where there is no vision, people perish"

Best health to all!


tootsie1's picture
Posts: 5054
Joined: Feb 2008

That wasn't me!


Posts: 71
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi John...
Always admired your up-to-date info and how you are handling LIFE AFTER DIAGNOSIS!
I have just returned to this site after a long absence. After my ALL CLEAR findings from last CT--I opted to go out and live life--and it's been great. Now I am approaching another fork in the road--CT SCANS and ARE THEY CAUSING CANCER? AND...SHOULD I TAKE my 3rd for the year? Please see my posting this morning. Really glad you're still with us and doing it the way you do it.

tootsie1's picture
Posts: 5054
Joined: Feb 2008

Hi! I'm sorry about your sister's situation, and I hope she'll find the best treatment for her and do VERY well with it. Sounds like she has a great advocate in you.

Please let us know how she's doing and ask away about anything!


Jane822's picture
Posts: 50
Joined: May 2010

I was dx with Stage IV colon cancer last July. Had colon resection in August and partial hysterectomy. Mets to liver and lymph nodes. Started chemo 6 weeks after surgery in late September. I did not qualify for liver resection at that time; however, have responded well to chemo and will be having liver resection 10/15. The only evidence of disease at this time is in my liver. I expect to have 4 months of follow up chemo after liver resection. Everyone responds differently to treatment, and I have been extremely fortunate. I recommend getting second opinions and researching to gather as much information as possible to help make your decisions. Affiliate with a larger hospital and medical staff who specialize in cancer treatment. Use the experts and team up with a network of doctors who you trust and who have access to the latest treatment information. In my opinion, once we've been dx with cancer, we will be susceptible the rest of our lives and must be vigilant with follow up tests and treatment. Stage IV is Stage IV -- and, unfortunately, `there's nothing "early" about that.

herdizziness's picture
Posts: 3642
Joined: Apr 2010

Glad she has you. I'm stage IV colon, dx Feb of this year. I haven't had surgery yet, the sooner the surgery, the more hope, I may or may not ever have surgery.
But I'm on chemo, still here, still a healthy (except for the cancer of course) 51 year old.
Welcome to our forum. Ask questions away, someone or the other will have been through that experience and can give their take on any given procedure or etc....
Winter Marie

Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1231
Joined: Jul 2005

I guess I need to comment and tell my story.

I don't think with Stage IV disease you can ever say "and now I'm OK". But, there are still a few flavors of success with this disease.

I was diagnosed Stage 4 (liver met) in May 2005. In June 2005 I had a sigmoid colectomy. Did 6 cycles of Xeloda/oxaliplatin/Avastin. No liver met showed on PET or CT after 10/05. In the Spring of 2006 I was evaluated twice for a clinical trial at NIH involving RFA to the liver in combination with a chemo drug. I was rejected because their CT, PET, MRI and ultrasound could find no evidence of liver disease.

In 2007 I consulted with a liver surgeon at Johns Hopkins - he said no way would he do liver surgery.

We scanned regularly and in November 2008 (35 months after last chemo treatment) a tiny lung nodule showed up (liver is still clear; lung nodule VERY metabolically inactive). Watched it via CT for 4 months - then had it removed via VATS. Turned out to be a crc met. Did 6 cycles of Xeloda and Avastin, continuing on Avastin only since then (16 months of Avastin as of yesterday). We do PETs every 3 months - I continue NED. I may recur at some point, but I thought you should know my story as my liver is still clear. And, I feel fine almost 3.5 years past diagnosis.

Good luck,


Betsydoglover's picture
Posts: 1231
Joined: Jul 2005

I meant to say almost 5.5 years since diagnosis.

Also, SCOUTY who posts from time to time on this site, did chemo followed by a bunch of "natural" treatments and she has been NED for several years without ever having a liver resection.


HeartofSoul's picture
Posts: 732
Joined: Dec 2009

Thank you Jams67 and others for your feedback.

On the comment by John23, "as far as statistics I make no friends here saying this, but the statistics have not changed in over 40 years"), well your statement is not accurate.

There is a significant difference in survival rates since 1970 for many reasons, such treatment options, new advancements in chemo and rad and surgey, surveillence, education, awareness and a far greater understanding of cancer.


What Percentage of People Survive Cancer?
The 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 1996-2004 is 66%, up from 50% in 1975-1977. The improvement in survival reflects prog- ress in diagnosing certain cancers at an earlier stage and improvements in treatment

The criteria used is:
Age-adjusted Cancer Death Rates, Males, US, 1930-2005
Per 100,000, age adjusted to the 2000 US standard population

For Colon cancer since 1985, the death rate has gone down from 35 to 20 for men per 100,000 and for woman its gone down from 25 to 15 per 100,000.

People suffering from some of the most common forms of cancer are twice as likely to survive for at least 10 years, compared with patients diagnosed in the early 1970s, research shows.

Breast, bowel and prostate cancer survival rates have shot up, as have those for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and leukaemia. The study compared data on 10-year survival rates of patients diagnosed with cancer in 1971-72 with the expected survival rates of those diagnosed in 2007. On average it found that 45.2% of cancer patients are now expected to survive at least 10 years, compared with 23.7% in the 1970s.

One of the most notable improvements was recorded for prostate cancer patients – nearly 70% of whom are now expected to survive for at least 10 years, compared with 20% in 1971-72.

The survival rate for those with leukaemia is still relatively low, with 33.2% of patients likely to live for at least 10 years in 2007. But this still represents a fourfold improvement since the early 1970s, when only 8.1% of patients were expected to survive more than 10 years.

The percentage of women likely to survive breast cancer for at least 10 years has jumped from less than 40% to 77%, while the figure for both sexes for bowel cancer has risen from 23% to 50%.

Twice as many women with ovarian cancer now survive (18% to 35%) while for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, survival has leapt from 22% to 51%.

While 10-year survival is still low for oesophageal cancer and myeloma (both below 20%), it is thought to have trebled over the same period.

Professor Michel Coleman, which calculated the figures, said: "These big increases in long-term survival since the 1970s reflect real progress in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and they confirm the immense value of having a National Cancer Registry that holds simple information about all cancer patients diagnosed during the last 30 to 40 years."

Professor Peter Johnson, put the improvement down to "faster diagnosis, better surgery, more effective radiotherapy and many new drugs".

Accoding to the American Cancer Society, Trends in 5-year Relative Survival Rates* (%) by all Races and Year of Diagnosis, US, 1975-2004 shows a comparison using 1975-1977 era to the 1996 to 2005 era. For almost every type of cancer listed, the 5 yr survival rates have gone up between 3% and 30% percentage points.

The rates for the following cancer have been rising:

The rates have been on flat slope for pancreas, ovary, leukimia. For women, the rates for lung cancer has leveled off after rising since 1970

John23's picture
Posts: 2141
Joined: Jan 2007

"..................... but the statistics have not changed in over 40 years.
About 26% of us will survive colorectal cancer, give or take a few
percentage points. The amount of time varies from diagnosis to death,
and living 15 or more years is possible, but the "bottom line" is that the
statistical records show that people that get colorectal cancer rarely
fare well.

That, is reality. Being diagnosed earlier doesn't mean that the overall
life-span is improved, it is only the span between diagnosis and death,
that's changed (There was a Norweigian study not too long ago, proving
just that).

Is that dismal? No, I don't think so. "Feeling good" by burrowing
one's head away from the reality doesn't help change the industry.
There's too much complacency regarding chemotherapy drugs and
treatments. The industry actually have some individuals believing that
drugs like Xeloda is a new invention. Capecitabine (Xeloda) has been
around long before it's patent date in 1998. What's "new" about that?

If there were more cancer victims screaming about the lack of
new drugs that use different concepts for killing cancer cells, perhaps
we would see some change. But continual support for old chemicals
isn't going to cause the industry to produce otherwise. Xeloda's
patent runs out in 2011; would you like to wager what will happen
to it? How about a "new name" and some reformulation of the
original recipe? The industry makes a big profit re-using old
formulas, and the public supports it by being blind to reality.

A 26% survival rate does not mean you will die of your cancer
tomorrow, or next week, year, or even in twenty years. It is the
statistical probability that the cancer will -eventually- get to 74%
of those that have it.

Hearing about those that are still here after 7,8, or more years after
diagnosis means little, regarding the statistics. My mother lived for
another 17 years after a dx of lung cancer and a prognosis of two
years, maximum. The cancer finally got her anyway, 17 yrs later.

She was another statistic. Her longevity did not change that statistic.

The propaganda that people are now living more than five years
after diagnosis, where in the past they didn't... is just a contortion
of facts. They have been diagnosed earlier; the cancer identified earlier,
and consequently have gone longer from dx to end.

If you want change, face the facts and demand change. Accepting
the industry's propaganda is wasting precious time.

Better health to all!


PhillieG's picture
Posts: 4837
Joined: May 2005

I was DX with stage IV colon cancer well over 6 1/2 years ago. I had more than a few spots on my liver so I had to have more than half removed. It was done at the time of my initial surgery. Currently I have to deal with a few small spots in my lungs and that is being done using RFA (radio frequency ablations) which is a procedure where they insert a needle into the tumor and heat it up and it dissolves the tumor. It's relatively new for lung tumors but it's more common for treating with liver tumors. After reading your post I don't see why a RFA could not be done for the liver since it seems like it's not widespread.

People have been diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and have turned out OK. Don't believe all of the statistics you may read. Every case is different. Also, the statistics are based on so many factors that they really (in my opinion) be taken with a grain of salt. They are generalizations based on many people with different backgrounds and circumstances so do not take them as facts.

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