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New Diagnosis - Stage 4

Posts: 3
Joined: Apr 2020

Hello all,

I have been reading this forum for the past few weeks, and am in awe of the strength and knowledge each member shows. I am hoping for some guidance as my family begins this journey.

My wonderful father (64 years), always the picture of health, was just six weeks ago diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer. In the middle of March, he went for a routine doctor's appointment, got a blood test which had strange liver results, and got an ultrasound of the liver for suspected gallstones. That same day, he was diagnosed with liver mets of unknown primary. A CT scan the next day confirmed metastatic colon cancer with spread to liver, lungs, both adrenal glands, and scariest of all, the brain. All this with no symptoms except the weird blood test and a bit of weight loss my dad attributed to recent increase in exercise. 


Within two weeks of diagnosis, my dad had brain surgery to remove one of two tumors, which was successful, and he is scheduled for follow-up radiation to the brain in a week. Yet, when it comes to the rest of the mets, the doctors are saying no to chemo or any other treatments (i.e. no surgery, radiation, etc). This is where my question lies - we knew from the start of this that we are in a palliative situation, but I was under the impression that even for Stage 4 colon cancer there are many palliative chemotherapies and medications / radiation / surgery if chemo shrinks things to try to extend survival. Why has my father's oncologist already given up on him? 

He is weak from surgery recovery, but otherwise in wonderful positive spirits, still eating with a strong appaetite, etc. The doctors have recommended rehabilitation to get his muscles stronger, which I agree with. But why the lack of chemotherapy?


Has anyone been in a similar situation? Is a second opinion warrented? I know my father is very sick with cancer, and it was truly shocking how he had so many mets with no symptoms at all, and I just don't feel that we are being given a fighting chance for any extension of life, when my father is so ready to fight. 



abita's picture
Posts: 987
Joined: Dec 2017

Did they say never chemo or just until the body heals from surgery?

Posts: 3
Joined: Apr 2020

The doctor said she wants to build my father up through rehabilitation after the surgery and that she does not know enough about colon cancer to recommend any chemotherapy and does not think it would work. She did say she would speak to a colleague on Tuesday, and I am hoping this colleague might be more informed or at least willing to try one of the many medications I know are out there. I have been doing a lot of research, and everything still points to palliative chemotherapy, so I am just beside myself as to why this oncologist seems to think there aren't any that would work, even once my father is stronger. 

abita's picture
Posts: 987
Joined: Dec 2017

Whatever happens with her, start researching and get a 2nd opinion with a colorectal cancer specialist. Most insurance covers it. I think it is incredible that the tumors in brain were able to be removed. Get a 2and opinion appt. with a specialist. Write down all the questions. Appts take a while to get so literally get on it right away. Don't let waiting for the appt stop any treatment but find out. Also, be prepared that as the patient, you want it done now and for some reason I have found they move slower than that. Also, my doctors never look much past the next step. Not sure if all are like that. I think because down the road steps all depend on how the current steps go. 

Trubrit's picture
Posts: 5399
Joined: Jan 2013

I am sorry to hear of your father's diagnosis. 

It does make me wonder why they are treating the brain and not going to treat the colon or liver. It just seems like it shuold be all or nothing. 

It is never too late to get a second opinion, or even a third.  If you don't get the answers you need from your dad's current Oncologist, then a second opinion is what I would be after. 

It is good that he is positive. It is good that he is going into this with health. Both will be a benefit to him. 

While I would never give false hope, there is always some hope.  While my case is nowhere near as severe as your father's, I am still Stage IV and beating the odds. 

I wish the same for your dad. 


SnapDragon2's picture
Posts: 476
Joined: Nov 2019

Yes, I agree with what Abita said.  Find a top cancer institute and get that 2nd opinion from a specialist.

beaumontdave's picture
Posts: 1120
Joined: Aug 2013

Seconded, thirded, and fourthed. Get him seen by other oncologists, post haste........................................Dave

Tueffel's picture
Posts: 229
Joined: Feb 2020

First of all: I am very sorry for your fathers diagnosis. Exactly 3 months ago I was in the same situation as you are now. I am sure this forum can help you down the road. It helps me a lot.

To your fathers diagnosis: I would also suggest to get a second opinion. You can at least try chemotherapy to prolong his life especially as you say that he is in good health. 

Maybe he should go to a colon center. As my dad is also stage 4 his case is discussed weekly at the tumor board which consists of many different doctors talking what is his best treatment. Of course my dads case is different than your dads case but still down the road obstacles could come like a surgery because the tumor obstructs the colon and it can burst. 

So do get a second opinion. I wish you and your dad all the best!

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