Chemo or immunotherapy???

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RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by Guidelisa on Mon Jul 16, 2018 01:04 AM

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Hi. Thanks for your concern! The doctors are saying stage II but it is (was) in a lymph node. Evidently, the cancer part was very small but a tremendous necrotic/fluid mass developed and that is what they need to figure out how to reduce/remove. He has a feeding tube due to its size and has gotten very frail. They originally wanted to do four sessions of chemo with 35 sessions of radiation. They only did two of the chemo and aboutbhalf of the radiation along with I think four to six (once a week) immunotherapy iv treatments. I am sure your mom fare much better because she is much younger. I say a prayer for her!

RE: Chemo or immunotherapy???

by Sdurnell on Wed Jul 18, 2018 07:30 AM

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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???

There are a number of factors to consider. 

It's important to understand that chemo is not the main treatment for head and neck cancer.  It's only there to help the radiation do its job.  I think most people are able to finish their chemo treatments, but a sizable number cannot tolerate them or have to quit due to hearing loss.  And they usually do pretty well anyway.  

It might depend on whether her tumor(s) is HPV related.  Those respond better to treatment than the ones caused by tobacco use.  So with a HPV+ diagnosis, since radiation is the main curative agent, it alone may be enough.

But it's also important to realize that immunotherapy doesn't work for everyone, and doctors don't really know why yet.  

If there is a recurrence most doctors will not do any more radiation, and chemo alone won't cure it.  But then  immunotherapy might.  

Hard decision.  Current standard of care (chemo and rads) is good but brutal.  But the radiation is usually the hardest part, and she'd be getting that either way.

Best of luck to her, and you, as she decides this.


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