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Lifetime Of Cancer Treatment ... Let's Hope So

There's some promising research out there, so don't stress too much over the dark and gloomy statistics.

"Bend over," said the nurse as she lined up the needle with my gluteus maximus.

Trying not to focus on the pain, I asked her how long I might have to take my monthly Octreotide injections, already knowing the answer.

"Probably forever," she said sympathetically, but with an encouraging sense that at least it would help keep me alive for a long time to come.

The injections are supposed to help keep the carcinoid cancer at bay. So far, they seem to be doing the trick, although we'll wait and see what the next scans in February reveal.

I figured I might as well do some hunting on the medical websites in the meantime to see what is the latest news on the cancer front. I'll share it with you in the hopes that we can all benefit from the research.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre released a report regarding carcinoid treatment that found its way onto the BiomedME.com site.

The reports says: "The treatment combination of everolimus and octreotide long-acting repeatable (LAR), a somatostatin analogue that has shown antitumor activity, led to a clinically meaningful five-month delay in tumour growth, compared to octreotide alone.

"Neuroendocrine tumours, also known as carcinoids, are uncommon tumours arising from various primary sites. Frequently, carcinoids spread to the liver, causing a variety of symptoms termed carcinoid syndrome.

"'There are currently no Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved drugs for oncologic control of most neuroendocrine tumors,' said Doctor James C. Yao. 'This research offers a promising option where there were limited options previously.'" 

The report isn't entirely encouraging. It goes on to say that 65 percent of patients with advanced cases die "within five years of diagnosis." OK, that's depressing. It reminds me of what Dr. Edward Wolin at Cedars-Sinai told me earlier this year. Before he suggested surgery, Dr. Wolin suggested we had caught the carcinoid tumor fairly late and that damaged my chances for long-term survival. I trust Dr. Wolin in regards to most things, but I also have to believe I can beat the odds.

A quick note to Peter Bennett: My friend, we can win that five-year marathon. The next four years will be fine and then we can really celebrate the defeat of cancer. There's lots of help out there for all of us.

Dr. Wolin knows his stuff and he's still consulting on my case, along with my oncologist Dr. Alex Metzger at Marin Cancer Institute in Kentfield and Dr. Jeffrey Norton at Stanford Medical Center. All three seem to agree I'm on the right path after two surgeries: the initial operation to remove the main tumor and a right hemicolectomy to remove some lymph nodes which showed signs of cancer. 

So, things are OK, maybe not great, but … OK? I can take that.

One last thing: I'd like to invite everyone to join me for a walk on the track at Infineon Raceway on Jan. 7 as we March Against Gastric Cancer. Funds raised from event will support the Jimmy V Foundation. For more information on the event, please contact Diana Brennan at dbrennan@infineonraceway.com or (707) 933-3918.

For more research, also check out the following sites:

Caring For Carcinoid Foundation

American Cancer Society

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