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A bit worried about my dad

Ag123
Posts: 45
Joined: Mar 2017

Hello everyone. 

This is my first post on this forum. I usually post on behalf of my dad in the head and neck section (as he's a cancer survivor). But he's been having some issues the last few months that made me worried it's related to colorectal cancer.  

 

He has been experiencing excessive amount of burping. When I say excessive I mean to the point he won't be able to talk. It happens especially when he exercises. Sometimes it happens with a little bit of discomofrt in the abdomden area. Sometimes he also complains from gas and pains/discomfort associated with it. Today when I asked him to point where the pain was he pointed at his lower left abdominal secton (the colon!). So natrually I am starting to worry that it may be related to colon cancer. He has no other GI complains (no bleeding, no diarrhea or consitpaiton, no vomitting, etc). Just the burping/or gas and discomofrot associated with it.

I know colon cancer is subtle and many people don't exeprience symptoms. Or have different symptoms. I am wondering if anyone had experienced this and was diagnosed later with colon cancer? 

 

Here's his history and scans:

- In 2013 he did colonoscopy and had a few polyps removed. They said they were benign. 

- In 2017 was his last screening colonscopy. Everything was clear. They say to repeat it in 5 years. 

- Somewhere in 2017 he did a PET scan that showed obstructed bile duct/gallstones. He still hasn't taken care of that. 

- In 2018, they did endoscopy after he finished his chemo for head and neck cancer (part of routine appearently). It was clear but they noted some type of hiatal hernia and mild ghistiris. He was told to take famotidine daily ever since. 

Also:

- In January 2019 he did a whole body PET-CT scan (which I assume is supposed to show everything that's metabolically active) and that area was clear as far as everyone was concerned. 

- His last blood test (CBC) was done 3 months ago and it was normal. Nothing odd about the RBCs and no anemia. 

 

 

We almost lost my dad to stage IV head and neck cancer a few years back. It feels like a miracle that he's here. I just don't wish to have him suffer from another cancer, so I can't help but worry. 

 

We're going to schedule an appoint with his GP just in case. 

Thanks so much! 

 

Tueffel's picture
Tueffel
Posts: 252
Joined: Feb 2020

Hello and welcome to this part of the forum.

I do understand you worries. My dad is going through cancer treatment and everything that looks odd you want to check out. I am a little hypochondriac now ;)

My dad had 2017 a colonoscopy because he did sometimes have pain. They found nothing. Unfortunately the cancer was already there and he got a few months after medication that shut down his immune system. 3 years later to our big surprise he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. So yeah in a small amount of people it is possible that cancer develops rapidly. I dont know how it works with PET. Go take your dad to primary doctor and let him have a proper physical examination of the abdomen. That wont exclude anything but some things radiate to different parts of the body. You know when people experience a heart attack they sometimes feel pain in their jaw or left arm. The doctor can then decide if a referral to colonoscopy is good or not. 

As for the burping: gastroscopy. You mentioned that your father has ghisteritis which I assume is actually gastritis. Check it out how it looks because gastritis can lead if untreated to stomach cancer. Let them also check if your father is Helicobakter pylori positive. If so he also needs to be treated. I know that might sound scary but I have the attitude now "oh they are good chill methods let us just exclude cancer for now". If I would be primary doctor, I would send everyone with hemorrhoids to colonoscopy just to be sure. 

Good luck!

Ag123
Posts: 45
Joined: Mar 2017

I am sorry about your dad. I read your story in the bio. I hope he's doing well. It really shakes up your reality when someone in your family gets diagnosed with a later stage cancer out of the blue. i can relate. 

I have read about missed cancers or cancers that grow after colonoscopies. It scares me. And yes my dad doesn't check the "normal" signs. He just complains from gas (which hurts) and burps a lot after eating heavy meals and walking for a long period of time (he likes to walk for hours at a time). 

 

He did his PET scan 13 months after the colonoscopy to be exact. From what I understand about PET scan (this is general), they are usually very sensetive. Most of the issues that arise from PET/CT get picked up with too much sensetivity. PET scans can show false positives (too much metabilic activity in colon). I've read that they're used for colon cancer detection b/c they pick up anything. But then I read one report that mentioned they may at times miss some TYPE of colon cancer (I believe it was mucinous type, which is about 10% of colon adenocarcinomas from what I have researched). Given that calculaiton i have just made up lol, I can maybe assume they pick up on 90% of colon cancrs? Again this is just my own "intuition" from google search. 

 

The other "good" sign is that he didn't have anemia or any abnormality show up in the blood few months back. I know it doesn't exclude it but it's keeping me hopefull.

 

It comforts me to know that he had the PET scans and blood test. But i wish to know more right now and i'm not gonna stop pushing until we know what's going on. The earliest GI appointment I was able to make for him was in March. So I' calling his PCP to see if they can see him earlier than that for breath test/fecal test. Thanks so much for your suggestion about getting checked PHYSICALLY. Good point. I was contemplaining the idea of doing virtual visit but maybe I should push him to go see his PCP in person.

 

I am trying to keep an open mind and extract from negative-bias. Maybe it's GERD, IBS, food intolerence (he's been itching), H pylori, etc. *cross fingers*

 

Ag123
Posts: 45
Joined: Mar 2017

So he saw the GI doctor. We were able to find an earlier appointment by luck. He dismissed the idea of doing another colonscopy. I am not sure how I feel about that. I was hoping he would adcoate for it. 

I felt like he kept digging on pancreatic cancer. My uncle died from it so i'm not sure if he was primed to ask form reading my dad's history or whether it is actually related to his ongoing burping symptom. 

He read the PET scan from 2.5 years ago and the last chest CT scan from couple months ago which oddly enough got "most" of the pancreas, according to him. And he didn't see anything suscpious that neccesates further testing. He just told my dad to avoid trggering food and will test him for H pylori i think.

 

I hope it's what he says. He keeps burping and it's just so odd. 

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5417
Joined: Jan 2013

It has to be very frustrating, not being able to get to the bottom of his condition.  Sometimes, even though the diagnosis is Cancer, or the like, it is better than no diagnosis at all. 

Has your father thought about getting a second opinion? 

I have not heard of burpingbeing a symptom of CRC, but as you say in your initial post, there are so many different types of ways our bodies tell us something is wrong, that it is always best to check it out. 

I wish him the best. He is a very lucky man to have such a caring daughter/son by his side. 

Tru

 

Ag123
Posts: 45
Joined: Mar 2017

It takes a long time to see another GI doctor. I think my form of second opinion would be the slightly less knowledgable/specialized but more proactive PA at his primary care center! She is the one who suggested an abdomen CT.... Cause why not?

 

You are so sweet. Only someone with cancer diagnosis or with a family member who was diagnosed will understand how scary it gets. Thank you! 

 

God bless.

Tueffel's picture
Tueffel
Posts: 252
Joined: Feb 2020

I can understand you. You hoped for more but got less. Your father already went through this treatment and yes we are then overafraid for our parents. I know that feeling. 

So atleast the H pylori testing. Tbh I dont know about pancreatic cancer. It is scary that he actually mentions it. 

Oh one thing: occult blood fetal test. If it is positive, your dad will definetely have a colonoscopy. I believe it is cheap so you can do it regularly every few months. 

I cant say more. I dont know how I would decide if he was my patient. But I hope you will figure something out.

Ag123
Posts: 45
Joined: Mar 2017

I don't know why he mentioned it either. Like thanks a lot. Pancreatic cancer sounds like death sentence. :/

I guess burping is a common symptom in pancreatic cancer pts than colon. Or maybe the family history. I don't know. 

 

I'm not radiologist, but but another reason I humbly don't feel that it is pancretic because symptoms tend to happen at very late stages when it jumps on the liver, gallblader, etc. At least that's how how it was with my uncle and my friend's dad and every case I read about during my uncle diagnosis. It feels so abrupt like "It's everywhere. You has x months left". That doesn't really allign with my dad's clear CT from 3 months ago, back when symptoms had already started.

 

Yes, so far we have H pylori testing, some test for celiac disease, and an upcoming CT scan of the abdomen which will hopefully will show the colon. 

 

I did not thnk about the occult blood test. That's interesting! Thanks so much for the info! 

 

 

Ag123
Posts: 45
Joined: Mar 2017

Ok today I woke up with the realization that whatever this is, we must get to the bottom of it. And i figured the best way to know what's going on from god knows which organ is probably CT scan of the abdomen (that was mentioned by his PA initially, but we dismissed it hoping the GI doctor would push for something specific like conoloscpy). So I called his PCP and asked her to schedule him for the scan. 

 

 So let's see! Thank you guys so much!

 

Trubrit's picture
Trubrit
Posts: 5417
Joined: Jan 2013

I think a scan is much better than a colonoscopy.  I'm glad you have the ball rolling on that. 

Tru

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