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Question about Surgery

Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2012

My dad was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 Esophageal cancer. He has been through Chemo and Radiation and his PET scan shows "reduced activity" (not really sure what that means). We met with a surgeon at Mayo Rochester (Dr. Shen) and he recommends surgery in 2-3 weeks. My dad is hesitant to do the surgery and the surgeon said he can take a few days to decide. Is there any reason he wouldn't want to go through with the surgery?

We were also not impressed with the Surgeon's manner. He didn't seem to care personally about our situation and was very detached and had a "just the facts" attitude. Is this typical of all surgeons or should we look for someone that seems to care a little more?

Thanks for any help or incite/experiences.

Josie60's picture
Posts: 81
Joined: Jul 2012

My opinion is have the surgery. I just had mine. I was curious where you live. I'm in Iowa and went to the UOI hospital and clinics. Dr Mark Innontoni. I was impressed with him and his staff as well. The care at the hospital was excellent. My oncologist got us in to see him in less than a week. The surgery was scheduled about 5 weeks after completing Chemo and Radition.

TerryV's picture
Posts: 916
Joined: Jul 2011

IMHO, I believe that surgery (if offered) is the best option to finding the way back to a clean bill of health. EC is a horribly aggressive disease and will do its durndest to return. Removal of the diseased organ and post surgery chemo if live cancer cells found in the post surgery path give EC patients the best odds at beating this beast.

I realize surgery is scary, but 9 lives is only rumored for cats, never humans. Your dad has one chance to do this right.

Best of luck to him and your entire family!

Terry (another Iowan - just SE of Des Moines)
PROUD wife to Nick, age 49
adinocarcinoma T3N1M0 05/19/11
26 rads & 2 weeks inpatient Cisplatin & 5FU
THE 09/08/11
NED until 05/11/12
EC spread to brain (3 tumors with a mist of mini tumors across the brain) with Leptomenengial disease
lost battle to FEC 06/19/12

JReed's picture
Posts: 463
Joined: Nov 2011

I agree with doing the surgery. There are many stage IVs who would love to have the opportunity to have surgery. It is a big deal surgery for sure - but you will get through it.

Sometimes the best surgeons have the worst personalities or no personality at all. My father had a 2% chance to live through an open heart surgery and the surgeon who told him that - I could have smacked right across the face - what a ******** he was. But you know what - he not only pulled my dad through that surgery - my dad did so well he was released about week earlier than they had originally predicted.

I learned then they don't have to have a great bedside manor to really know their stuff. It would be nice if they did, but it is not a requirement. You should, however, be confident with your surgeon. I am a strong believer in listening to your gut instinct - if you don't like that surgeon - find another one - a second or third opinion would be a good thing to do anyway with a surgery of this magnitude.

Please keep us posted on your dad and on how you are doing with all of this. It's a hard spot to be in - but you will make a lot of friends here and everyone has so much knowledge - so glad you found us.

Hugs and FEC,

captdave's picture
Posts: 168
Joined: Feb 2012

Surgery is not only the best option it is in reality the only option. Any treatment other then surgery is just managing the disease not treating it or giving the possible outcome of being disease free. I know it is scary as hell looking at this surgery. It is a major serious surgery. but having been through it not that long ago It is what you make of it. Have your dad start walking and getting his lungs in shape. exercise and being in the best possible physical condition possible going into surgery is a huge benefit. Once I made the decision to have the surgery I then had something to focus on and to work towards. After setting the surgery date I was less concerned about the seriousness of the surgery and more focused on getting myself ready for the surgery. My focus shifted from being scared to preparing. Mental attitude is also very very important. Having a winning attitude going in and being willing to do what ever it takes and a little bit more will make a huge difference. This is a battle but one that your dad can win just make sure he is mentally and physically prepared and he will do just fine. I f he is a surgical candidate I can't think of a single reason not to have the surgery. I know I have never regretted having mine not even for a minute.


jgwright's picture
Posts: 252
Joined: Oct 2011

I'd give up a lot to be able to have surgery. Right now, I'm Stage IV and surgery isn't an option because I have metastates all over the place. If I could have had esophageal surgery, I'd of jumped on it, because now, Treatment but NO cure is my only possibility.

So, tell your dad, DO IT. Make sure you have the best surgeon with the best track record, however!


sandy1943's picture
Posts: 883
Joined: Jun 2010

Surgery is the only cure. I'm almost five years out after having stage three. I am so thankful I had that option. I am now cancer free. The surgery is bad no matter what kind. We all have a lot of adjustments to make after the surgery.We will never be the same, but life is good again. We have to learn a new way of eating and sleeping, but we do adjust in time. For me life is pretty back to normal.

Not all doctors have good bedside manners, but how knowledgeble they are is whats important. My surgeon is always blunt, but his staff, my oncogist, and his team makes up for his lack of people skills. He is a top doctor in his field and I trust him comletely.

Encourage your dad to make the decision for the surgery. Don't wait and give the cancer a chance to get back in control. It's better to have it as soon as the doctor gives the go ahead.

Good luck and let us know His decision, Sandra

fltrv50's picture
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2012

Ive been through chemo and radiation and i too have a doc that has no people skills... my question is .... Do they have to remove the whole esoph. or can they just remove the part in question mine is right at the stomach.....running out of time please help if you can

thanks Bill

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hopefulsurvivor49's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: Apr 2012

Yes to surgery.

Assuming your Dad's surgeon is great, if you have other options for a great surgeon, then you don't need to put up with him.

If he can travel, I highly recommend Dr. Christopher Morse at MGH Boston.

Best of luck to your Dad.

Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2012

Thanks for everyone's input. My dad has decided to have the surgery (August 8th). We also found a new surgeon (Dr. Deschamps) who we get on with much better. He has decided to perform a gasterectomy rather than an esophagectomy due to the location of the tumor being more in the stomach than the esophagus (he will remove a small part of the lower esophagus as well, but we were told he will just be making one incision in the abdomen.)

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