When I was diagnosed with cancer of the colon, I underwent surgery to remove the offending cell growth and ancillary tissue. The situation is not a simple one. It was discovered that the cancer had grown through my colon wall and into the lymph nodes in the adjacent area. That put me in a Stage 3 diagnosis. The tissue was sent off for analysis and the pathology report indicated that 4 of the 20 lymph nodes analyzed were cancerous. Not too bad, but borderline, as anything above 4 is not so good. So, a pretty advanced Stage 3.

I then started seeing a medical oncologist to follow my progress. She had me have a CT scan and that showed up 3 little spots on the liver, which is one of the organs a colon cancer will favor travelling to if it does so. Well, we just don’t know if those spots are but normal aging spots or cancerous ones – they remain too small to make any determination. If they are cancerous, then I will be diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, not good. A further CT scan is planned for August and differences between the two, if there are any, will be revealing – are the spots growing or not? Till then, uncertainty lingers.

Now, a Stage 3 diagnosis after surgery leads to a prognosis of 50% survival after 5 years. Adding in adjuvant chemotherapy would have added an additional 15% to that, not much [more on this later on…]. The prognosis for a Stage 4 diagnosis is much worse, so I am hoping that I am a Stage 3 fellow.

Now, these are all ballpark statistics and just that, statistics. Some patients go earlier than 5 years, others later, even much later.

The big ado about cancer is the problem of recurrence. You get it once and your chances of it recurring later in the same organ increase. There is no cure for it, only some therapy to increase the odds a bit. It can be an emotional yo-yo – you feel up and then it recurs, and so on. Not too pleasant for anyone involved, not just me.

National Cancer Institute information on the stages of colon cancer… http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/colon/Patient/page2#Keypoint7

And on recurrence effects…

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/When-Cancer-Returns

All the best!

Philip

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