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Are swollen ankles significant?

Mazj's picture
Posts: 42
Joined: Oct 2011

My husband was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2005 and had the Ivor Lewis surgery. However, 6 years down the track his tumour markers started to rise and following a CT scan and laparoscopy it was discovered he had mets to the peritoneal cavity. This was being treated with chemo and was responding. A complication arose in the form of lots of fluid in the capsule surrounding his liver and now swollen ankles and feet. After reading about Lee and Eric, both with swollen ankles, I wonder how significant this is. Neither the oncologist nor the liver specialist seems concerned. Should he go to a GP so that someone has more of an overall picture rather than just their specialities? The fluid around the liver is due to be aspirated on Nov 28. Whether that will have an effect or not is unknown. The liver and one kidney is being squashed. A previously mentioned liver met is questionable as it now can't be seen on the ultrasound. Maybe that is the cause and will be seen with less fluid. I don't know. I just seem to be frightened so easily by anything else that comes along.
Any ideas?

Thinking of all with this horrid disease,

Daisylin's picture
Posts: 380
Joined: May 2011

Lee started having swollen ankles about 2 months ago, at first it was just the left foot, then as the weeks progressed it went into both ankles and then spread up the legs, into his abdomen.

When first noticed, the doctors did not seem concerned either, but one nurse practitioner on the team sent Lee for a doppler ultrasound to rule out blood clots. they discovered that he did not have any blood clots, and the matter was dropped. Be sure to get one done, just in case.

While in the hospital, the doctors suggested elevating his feet above his heart, but by that point, his legs were so swollen he could not even walk. He needed help getting out of bed. We asked about draining the fluid, but they said that in cases of liver failure, it would not help. They did give him lasiks, which is a drug that was supposed to make him urinate, but it did not work. They tried some other drug, which also didn't work (don't remember the name of it) Hopefully it's not the case for your husband, but Lee's liver was just too far gone, and was not processing fluids. they had given him iv hydration, and all that fluid just started pooling in his legs.

Lee's liver was over 90% non functioning, which is not the case for your husband, so I hope the aspiration will do the trick. In the meantime, try simple exercises like bending the foot up and down, lifting his leg (from a sitting position, from the knee down) and keep it elevated, above his heart while resting. These are the things the physiotherapist told Lee to do, to help reduce swelling.

Hope that helps a bit, everything about this disease is so scary.....
be well

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CindyGSD's picture
Posts: 191
Joined: Aug 2011

First let me qualify this post by saying I do not have esophageal cancer nor do I know anyone that does. I was diagnosed with Uterine cancer and mercifully found my way to these boards back in August. Fortunately (or unfortunately) the Uterine board is not very active so I have ended up wandering to other boards for information. A post on another board about the esophageal board’s wonderful and supportive group of people brought me here and I’ve been following your posts for a few weeks now.

Now the point of this post. Since liver failure is usually the cause of acsites, my assumption (note ASSUMPTION) is that regardless of the cancer it can be treated the same way. I ask that you visit the Ovarian board and look under the post “Linda P where are you” which will be near the top. Linda has liver failure (liver mets) and is currently in the final stages of her cancer. She has terrible acsites and has been having fluid drained once or twice a week. Just last Friday she had a catheter put in so she can drain it herself at home. I believe she has been dealing with this for a couple of weeks now and is trying to extend her life to enjoy time with her family.

On a brighter side, I know there is another person that regularly has her acsites drained and she is not dying. It’s just part of the management of her cancer.

Finally let me say that I apologize if I’ve given anyone false hope and there is a very obvious reason that draining fluid won’t work for esophageal cancer, but I would hate to see anyone suffer with it if there is a way to treat it so I felt I had to post.

Take care,

Donna70's picture
Posts: 921
Joined: Aug 2009

Hi Cindy,
Welcome to our board we are happy to have anyone come on and give advice or ask for advice here. Our Sherrie knows a lot with the long journey she has taken with Jim and as stated ascites is different for everyone. Just wanted to thank you for your mention of the catheter. I have worked in hospitals and seen the discomfort severe ascites causes and it sounds like a good idea to have a draining method if that is available to the patient if the meds don't work. It is not comfortable at all to have your organs getting squeezed and also when it drains into your extremities it just adds more suffering. thanks for your input, I am sure everyone appreciates the info you have supplied. take care,

Mazj's picture
Posts: 42
Joined: Oct 2011

Dear everyone,
Thank you so much for all your thoughts and suggestions. Michelle, you are a treasure! Brian has been elevating his leg, even in bed at night (withhis head on the wedge pillow as well!) and he feels it has helped enormously. This morning there was no sign of ankle or foot swelling. That's one less thing to worry about. This site is so helpful - no it's the lovely people!!!
Thinking of you all, especially Eric.

chemosmoker's picture
Posts: 524
Joined: Aug 2011


chemosmoker's picture
Posts: 524
Joined: Aug 2011

It is AMAZING what elevating the head and ankles can do for Ascites!
Mine is back down to normal size ankles and the doctor said he didn't even hear a fluid echo in my belly anymore. There IS hope, The over can and will BEGIN to fail, but exercise, do what you can, rest, elevate, and so forth and it can bounce back as mine did
There is hope for more time

God bless you all

Ucsf_smile's picture
Posts: 81
Joined: Sep 2011

It's nice to see ChemoSmokers "face" on a post from the past. He will never be forgotten....bless him and his family.

I am searching for this topic because my mom is complaining of swollen ankles. I will have her elevate her feet to see if it helps.

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