Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Test Results

Wow - you're hearing from me again so quickly! I'm glad to be doing a better job keeping you in the loop, but I will warn you that this posting is nowhere near as fun as the last one. I am going to bore you with technical health news. If you are interested only in the “bottom line” skip down to the last paragraph.

Today (Tuesday) I had my appointment with Dr Wong, my oncologist, to review the results of my scans from last week. I have told you before that I have several tumors already established in my spine, most of them in the thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower) sections. The MRI showed a few of these had increased in size, a few had not significantly changed, and I have at least 2 new ones. Exactly which of these is causing my current back pain is still unknown and Dr Wong wants to get some more opinions from a Radiation Oncologist and a back surgeon. At this point we are looking at 3 options. The first is do nothing and try to control the pain with medication, the second is to use radiation to shrink the tumor(s), the third is another back surgery. My preferred option is radiation but I may not be eligible for it because I have already had radiation treatments to that area of my back. Evidently there is a maximum amount of radiation “juice” they can shoot you with so they have to determine if I have hit my max and also get an opinion on how successful this would be at relieving the pain.

This latest MRI was compared to the last one I had in April. This timing is important to keep in mind because I started on Nexavar in June. That means that there were 2 months where I was not on a systemic drug and any changes in the lesions could have occurred during that 2 month time span. So we have no way of knowing if the Nexavar is doing its job on the spinal tumors. But since we know it is helping the tumors in the soft tissue we are going to assume that it is working on the bone tumors as well.

I also had CT scans of the neck, chest, and abdomen. These scans I get every 60 days while on Nexavar and they are used to track the progress of disease. (These are the ones that showed the shrinking tumors back at the beginning of August) These most recent CT’s showed very little change from the ones 60 days ago. I view that as good news – stable is much better than progression!

Just a side note - Has anyone ever read a report from a CT Scan or MRI? These are the reports that the Radiologists write up after examining the scan films. I have been asking for these reports and reading them for the last couple years and I still have to read them next to a computer with internet access. I read a sentence, Google a few words, read a sentence, Google a few words, etc, etc. After about 15 minutes I can get through the half dozen paragraphs and understand about ¾ of it! I guess I should have taken biology in high school instead of that extra year of physics. If I only knew……

Anyway – enough technical talk. The bottom line is this: most of the tumors are stable but I have growth in some areas of the spine. These areas are causing significant pain and a little more homework is being done to find out the best way to relieve that pain. It may be a week or so before I have that information, I’ll let you know when I have it.

Hey - Thanks again for caring enough to read this junk!

Be Well - Be Blessed!

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