Chemo or immunotherapy???

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Chemo or immunotherapy???

by Candicek on Tue Jul 03, 2018 09:58 PM

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My mom was just diagnosed with stage 2 tonsil cancer. She is being offered a trial where they will do either radiation and chemo or radiation and immunotherapy. We are so torn as to what option to pick. Does anyone have any feedback???

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by john0503 on Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:43 PM

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They're offering "either or", but not in conjunction?

My wife was diagnosed with glioblastoma in Feb of this year.  She had surgery in March.  She started chemo/radiation and a clinical trial (immunotherapy trial) in April.

So, she did it all.  Are you getting treated at a NCI center?

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by Candicek on Wed Jul 04, 2018 02:05 AM

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It's either or, I think because it is part of a trial.  The survival rate (5 yr) is 82%, which is great, but of course even if it goes away there is a chance of reoccurence.  The immunotherapy could possibly combat the reoccurence, but there is a risk that the it doesn't work and the tumor does not go away after initial treatment.

Treatment is in Canada.

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by john0503 on Wed Jul 04, 2018 02:26 AM

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That's interesting.  I don't understand why they would make it either/or.

We went to Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, hoping to be part of a clinical trial, but not at the expense of her standard care.

I don't know what I'd do, but I don't think I'd give up on the standard care.  Especially if 5 yr survival rate is so good.

From what we were told and what I've learned from my own research, the immunotherapy is the future.  Our local neurosurgeon would not do the surgery.  If Moffitt wasn't going to do anything, then we were going to Israel, because I had done the research and spoke to people and they have already approved immunotherapy for brain cancer in Israel.

Good luck on your decision and I pray all goes well for ya'll!

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by augustus on Wed Jul 04, 2018 02:12 PM

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If I have a reoccurrance, I would try the immonotherapy if they are reasonably confident about its success. But for the first time , I couldn't say. (I wish there was a viable option to avoid the radiation too. ) I had a lot of difficulty with chemo and was given several types because of reactions. Radiation was even tougher. But the most imporatant reaction, killing the cancer, was achieved too. The radiologist takes most of the credit for that, but my oncologist thinks the same thing about her program, I am sure. I felt my doctors at MD Anderson gave me straight answers. If you trust your doctors, following their lead is usually the best option. If you think they are needing guinea pigs, then go with the standard treatment. I am 3.5 years out but they found a spot in my ear canal that is "suspicous" and probably going to be cut out and have a biopsy on. I hope it is scar tissue from the radiation. If immunotherapy somehow helped with preventing something like this cropping up, that would increase my likelihood to use it, of course. 

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by Guidelisa on Sat Jul 14, 2018 04:43 PM

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The chemo almost killed my dad - severe dehydration and throwing up landed him in the hospital for two weeks. They switched to radiation and immunotherapy and the doctors are saying that the cancer is gone but a giant mass of fluid and necrotic tissue remain. This mass is too risky for surgery because it is wrapped around his artery and jawbone. He is 80 years d and has not recovered from the chemo effects (can’t walk and has a feeding tube, has lost over 50 pounds). He has had the typical harsh radiation side effects but very little side effects (tired and a little rash) from the immunotherapy- I would explore that before chemo if possible. Radiation and immunotherapy seemed to help my dad more than the chemo. But everyone is different.

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by NJM01 on Sun Jul 15, 2018 05:49 AM

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Hi Candicek - I had HPV tonsil cancer and was also offered either radiation and chemo or radiation and immunotherapy. I ultimately decided for the traditional route of chemo and radiation simply because the established protocol - as hard as it is - has a long, proven track record of success. Some studies have suggested radiation alone may be adequate but I wanted to hit the cancer as hard as possible the first time around. The immunotherapy regimes do appear to show promise from what I gather but I wasn’t prepared to take a chance. I suggest you talk it over with your oncologist, do your own research and then work with your Mum to reach a decision you are both comfortable with. Best of luck, N

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by Candicek on Sun Jul 15, 2018 01:40 PM

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I’m sorry to hear your Dad had such a bad reaction! She decided to go the chemo route, but has not started yet. She will only be getting three doses over a 2 month period. How often did your Dad get chemo? She will get immunotherapy if the chemo and rad don’t work. I’m glad to hear his cancer is gone? What stage was he at when diagnosed? Had it gone to any lymph nodes? My Mom is stage 2 and 58 years old, so we are hoping for the best.

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by TarheelNick on Sun Jul 15, 2018 09:36 PM

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On Jul 03, 2018 9:58 PM Candicek wrote:

My mom was just diagnosed with stage 2 tonsil cancer. She is being offered a trial where they will do either radiation and chemo or radiation and immunotherapy. We are so torn as to what option to pick. Does anyone have any feedback???

I had a Grade II brain tumor diagnosed in 1994. I received surgery and radiation. Followups for 14 years showed no recurrence, so I was advised it was not necessary to follwup anymore. Then, in 2015, I had a seizure, and found out it was back. I've since had surgery, radiation again, 2 kinds of chemo, 1 immunotherapy, and am now on a genetic parp inhibitor treatment I don't quite understand.(It helps the bad cancer DNA not to be repaired if the cells are damaged.) We're closing in on 3 years after the surgery, but running out of options as it continues to ebb and flow and still hang around. In answer to your question, they gave me the option of holding back on the chemo in case we needed to use it later. Do you have the option of selecting one, then switching if it's found ineffective? Find out the specific side effects of each as well. I handled my chemo with very limted side effects.

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by Arman on Sun Jul 15, 2018 09:51 PM

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On Jul 03, 2018 9:58 PM Candicek wrote:

My mom was just diagnosed with stage 2 tonsil cancer. She is being offered a trial where they will do either radiation and chemo or radiation and immunotherapy. We are so torn as to what option to pick. Does anyone have any feedback???

I was diagnosed with stage III Tonsil cancer caused by the HPV virus. The primary tumor was in the right tonsil that had spread to one lymph node in the neck on same side.

I had the tonsil removed followed by 6 1/2 weeks of radiation with no chemo completed Nov 2014.  You may consider a 2nd opinion from another cancer center if her cancer is caused by HPV virus and caught at stage II.

Arman

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