Cancer confusion

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Cancer confusion

by Miwolf7 on Fri Jul 27, 2018 04:16 AM

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Ok, hi. I have a friend who was diagnosed with prostate cancer,  aggressive. Has traveled to stomach,  intestines,  and liver. My friend has lost about 30 pounds since diagnosed. Doctors were talking about the possibility of a colostomy bag and feeding tube . Now only weeks later, the doctors are saying that it has stopped progressing. And for my friend to come back in three months to confirm and at that time possible surgery to remove tumors. This doesn't sound right to me. Any advice? Ps the doctors are with the VA.

RE: Cancer confusion

by genemyers on Sun Jul 29, 2018 04:49 AM

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The story has a few puzzles in it as you have presented it which I will outline below, but I think the best thing for your friend to do at this point is to get two other second opinions. This should help clarify what the doctors are telling him. I am not sure if this is possible in the VA system. I think they will refer to outside doctors or you can appeal and get a second opinion within the organization.

On one hand, it is a very rare indication that prostate cancer has traveled to the stomach and intestines, such an indication would suggest a widely spread cancer and very late stage of the disease, such that your friend should be asking if any other treatment or procedures are going to extend life or help quality of life. In this situation, prostate cancer does not “stop progressing” or be localized enough for surgery. Also losing 30 pounds would put him in this situation.

On the other hand a different story is told if the prostate cancer has really stopped progressing (or better yet diminished), and they want to do surgery to remove tumors. Some aggressive doctors will treat the disease systemically first, and then if scans show a spot or two of cancer left, they will then come in and do spot radiation or surgery (usually to a lymph node) to try to eliminate the disease. This is not standard of care.

So the question becomes, does the friend have very late stage cancer which might not be very treatable, or does he have earlier disease, which might be aggressive but is treatable. We may not have all of the information to understand what is going on. 

But in any case getting another opinion is a good idea (unless your friend has already made up his mind as to what to do), as when the disease progresses to either of these stages, doctors will have different opinions on what to do.

Best wishes

Gene

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