Small trial suggests the scans might help, but experts aren't so sure
by chimmler on Wed Jun 29, 2011 04:51 AM
According to the doctor my dad has stage 3 posterior tongue cancer which is very similar to throat cancer. My dad is currently in his 7th week (out of 8) of chemotherapy and radiation therapy and he is not doing well. The doctor said we need to stop the treatment because of his condition. The sores on his neck and throat area are getting worse and he is taking a lot of morphine for the pain. The morphine is causing him to hallucinate and lose touch with reality. According to the schedule, he only has one more chemo session and 5 days of radiation left. I asked the doctor if 7 weeks is enough but he insists that we need to finish the treatment. After doing some reading on it seems like some patients do 6 and some do 8 weeks of treatment. I am starting to get the impression that the doctor just wants to squeeze another week out so he can get paid more. But maybe I feel that way because I want my dad to be done with the treatment more than anything because I feel like it is killing him. Does anyone know if there is a major difference between 6 or 8 weeks of treatment?
by REDVETTE on Wed Jun 29, 2011 04:56 AM
My husband did not finish his radiation schedule because he began to run a high temperature and was in the hospital for nine days. They really never found the source of the infections but felt that it would be detrimental to continue the last week of rads. That was 2 1/2 years ago and I can proudly say that his last Drs. appt. showed that he is cancer free - Praise the Lord. I realize that each patient is different! Good luck and hugs and prayers!!
by Ladylacy on Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:09 AM
My husband was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer Stage 3 last July. He underwent 3 chemo treatments and 35 radiation treatments at the age of 73. He finished all treatments and never had the burns on his the outside skin. He had a peg tube for feedings and we thought it got the cancer but learned in February he needed to have a laryngectomy, neck dissection and reconstruction of his throat since the radiation basically closed off the back of his throat which they didn't know about until they were doing surgery. All in all his chemo and radiation treatment left him tired and unable to swallow but he did finish his treatments. We were told that a lot of people don't finish the radiation treatments because of the skin burns and that radiation on the neck was the worse.
Thankfully right now he is 3 months out from surgery and doing good. He is able to swallow liquids again but swallowing food is still somewhat of a problem.
As far as the doctor wanting to squeeze another week for money, sorry but that isn't true for the majority of doctors. We had thought my husband should have had surgery first, but after 2 opinions we found out that now they would rather do the chemo and radiation first and then surgery if that doesn't work. We were lucky because the cancer hadn't spread outside the voicebox.
Wishing your father the best and you too because it is hard on the family too.
by Sdurnell on Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:49 PM
I don't think your doctor is trying to overcharge you, as I've heard of a number of folks who had 8 weeks. There are very specific protocols for different kinds of throat (head and neck) cancers, and for different stages. A lot of them are very standardized, but they do vary with the type and stage, so maybe that's what you are seeing. (I only had five weeks of radiation for mine, no chemo.)
Think of it like finishing your prescription for antibiotics so you will really get the benefit. I had to take a small break in my radiation, and they said it was fine, but I still had to get all my days in, no skipping.
by Diamond_David on Thu Jun 30, 2011 01:44 AM
On Jun 29, 2011 4:51 AM chimmler wrote: According to the doctor my dad has stage 3 posterior tongue cancer which is very similar to throat cancer. My dad is currently in his 7th week (out of 8) of chemotherapy and radiation therapy and he is not doing well. The doctor said we need to stop the treatment because of his condition. The sores on his neck and throat area are getting worse and he is taking a lot of morphine for the pain. The morphine is causing him to hallucinate and lose touch with reality. According to the schedule, he only has one more chemo session and 5 days of radiation left. I asked the doctor if 7 weeks is enough but he insists that we need to finish the treatment. After doing some reading on it seems like some patients do 6 and some do 8 weeks of treatment. I am starting to get the impression that the doctor just wants to squeeze another week out so he can get paid more. But maybe I feel that way because I want my dad to be done with the treatment more than anything because I feel like it is killing him. Does anyone know if there is a major difference between 6 or 8 weeks of treatment?
On Jun 29, 2011 4:51 AM chimmler wrote:
I can't tell you if the doctor's doing for money but my doctor quoted resarch
"if you have this, research has shown you'll live longer if you do that."
I had tonsil cancer, not tongue, but still had radiation to neck, jaw and checmo
I had 7 or 8 weeks, can't remember. When I paid on the table for radiation (this is what's getting your dad, not the checmo) I counted.
The big ray gun machine did 7 landings (1 in cneter of my face and 3 on either side) and when it was ON I counted 15 seconds.
I have a freind who had TONGUE and spoke to others, when the machine was spewing radiation it was on for 1-2 minutes or more per spot.
That sure would getcha!
They don't tell you how bad it is afterwards. Once done with treatments, he'll feel WORSE 2 weeks afterwards, then he'll slwoly be back to recovery.
Your dad has what Micahel Douglas had last year.
I have heard of soem folks doing 7 weeks, never heard of "6".
This is the worse treatment for almost any cancer you can have. You'll have a hrad time getting another doctor opinion I'd bet, but ask around. If he's getting zapped on the table a lot longer that I was, can't imagine where you are now wouldn't be so bad.
But I had surgery to take out a cancerous lumph node and tonsils. They didn't do surgery (and typically don't) on tongue cancer. They just radiate a lot more.
David, Atlanta, GA.(Finished Feb 2008)
by MelinRN on Thu Jun 30, 2011 04:36 AM
My husband had stage 4 and had 7 weeks radiation with chemo at same time at City of Hope. It was unknown primary but they are pretty sure it was base of tongue. 8 weeks is longer than I've heard of. Maybe he's not getting as much radiation with each treatment? Currently symptom free. Finished 7 weeks ago. First 2 weeks after were horrible, can't imagine doing 8. I know I felt like the treatment was killing him more than the cancer!! But he's doing much better now....keeping fingers crossed for PET in August! Good luck to you!
by Georgenone on Thu Jun 30, 2011 07:32 AM
The radiation treatments are like any other. What works for one does not work for all. For my last cancer I was suppose to have 7 weeks but only had 5. Doctor did not seem to realize 2 weeks were skipped. That was nearly 4 years ago I'm doing great. One never knows your father may need the full course. They use a formula that incorporates factors such as weight size and general health to determine the amount and duration. The result is like any other treatment or medicine, it may or may not work.
Throat spray with lidocaine may possibly do more than morphine. Its messy but it works on the sores outside too. Morphine, if you are like me, is 100% useless.
It may seem like its a money issue but it should be that they have calculated that amount to be the maxium he can take to achieve the maxium benefit. His chemo is short. Mine dragged on for 6 months but I had a lot of cancer.
You may not like the treatment or the result but no matter how you look at it his best chance for long term survival is to take the full treatment.
by Kimberly_Y on Thu Jun 30, 2011 09:42 PM
My mom had the same type of cancer...the base of her tongue. She had to have 7 weeks of radiation along with 4 rounds of chemo. Her chemo treatments were spread out over 4 months but she was required to check herself into the hospital where she would stay for 7 dats and have a 24 hour continous drip of a chemo cocktail. I know that her chemo treatments were delayed due to the sores in her mouth as well as the burns on her face and neck area from the radiation. I would hope that your doctor would not require him to do the extra week for money. Like I was told many, many times by my mom's doctor - "everyone's treatment is different."
I hope this helps. Keeping you and your dad in my thoughts and prayers.
by trixiedixie on Sun Jul 03, 2011 01:25 AM
Hi there, I just finished my rounds of chemo and radiation for stage 3 tonsil cancer and at first I was going to have 8 chemo and 7 radiation weeks but, it was determined last minute, that I needed a different type of chemo agent. This brought my radiation weeks down to 5, more intensive weeks. My doctor explained to me that the type of chemo I was to get reacted differently with the originally planned type and that they were able to hit me harder with radiation for a shorter duration, with the new chemo. I was very happy to have my radiation weeks shortened, especially because it is very true, the two to three weeks after treatments were the worst. I can't speak for your doctor but it would never have occcured to me that my doctor had anything but my well being in mind, first and foremost. I am 22 days out from my last radiation treatment and am just now beginning to see a light at the end of the burning tunnel. A very glorious bright light that has brought about a new sense of healing. Keep up the strength for your dad and for yourself, you'll both need it and you'll both be glad you did.
by bpcomo on Sat Jul 09, 2011 04:10 AM
Ditto's to all above. remember, it's a long road, not a walk in the park, it's a 2-3 year process that wuill take time, healing, faith, help, caretakers, family and friends to get you thru.
The treatment I had I felt almost killed me and it almost did one night when I hit the floor at 3 AM and rushed to the hospital, but that was just a very bad reaction to the second chemo treatment, the next treatmwent six weeks later, I made sure I was in the hospital where they could keep me hydrated. That is a majot fator, keep hydrated but don't be so pushy that you drive your patient insane! The saliva glands are a major issue that will take up to one maybe two years to be back to normal one hundred percent.
All in all it is the hardest treatment that any cancer patient ever recieves mainly due to the fact that it is in your throat, mouth and tounge area and you can't eat, talk or hardly breath due to the build up in your throat of thick mucas type material that is very agravating, let alone keeps you awake all night.
My last treatment was June 2010 and I am C free as of now and expect to be the rest of my life! But, I can say, it was the worst period of hell in my life I had ever had to endure. But, we just keep going and the caretakers whom ever they are play a very important role in making it through.
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