Back to monitoring

As usual, before the next appointment, my dad did CA 19.9 tumour marker test at a nearby public hospital (with the form issued by Penang GH oncologist). It went up from 51 to 59, marking the second consecutive increases after a series of decreases. I wasn't sure where it's serious or not and so we just waited to hear from the oncologist would say.

Turns out that it was a non-issue: the doctor didn't order a CT scan or another round of chemo treatment. She said that since my dad is fine (could do normal daily activities independently and mobile) and has no new symptom (plus the pain in his leg subsided substantially compared to pre-chemo treatment), they'll just monitor instead.

She said certain things that other oncologists had told us: for stage 4 cancer patient, chemo treatment is used to, hopefully, stop the growth of cancer or at best, reduce it by a little but it will never get rid of it. The objective is to provide quality of life to the patient and hence the symptom management.

Prognosis is still the same but given the success of the chemo treatment and dad's current condition, his life expectancy has already lengthened.

So we pretty much take it as good news. My dad especially doesn't relish another round of chemo treatment.

Incidentally, during the consultation, my dad revealed that he, once again, adjusted medicine unilaterally: he forwent lactulose whenever his bowel movement was normal. I remember clearly that when this medicine was first prescribed, he was told to never stop because the morphine (and now oxycodone) would contribute to his constipation (apparently cancer can also do that). So this time, the palliative care specialist, after asking a number of questions, emphasised that dad can certain adjust the dosage of the constipation medicine (in accordance with the prevailing bowel movement condition) but should never stop i.e. must maintain the minimum dosage.

Next appointment is scheduled about 2 months later, preceded with tumour marker test.
2 Responses
  1. William Says:

    Good to hear that his quality of life has improved. Hope the next appointment will have better news!


  2. Anonymous Says:

    The US Olympian Gold Medalist figure skater, Scott Hamilton was diagnosed with Stage 4 testicular cancer, but is now cancer-free for 15 years. Stage 4 means it has spread, but does not mean it cannot be "cured."