Friday, 28 June 2013

Oncology consultation

Katie and I recently spent a few days in Yorkshire. There were some great photographic opportunities during our trip thanks to both the weather and the local birds being in obliging mood. One of the highlights was a visit to the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs. The cliffs would be extremely impressive even if they were not the summer home and breeding ground for around 200,000 sea birds. For me the gannets were the stars of show:

I'm due to have my next round of chemotherapy on Wednesday and saw my oncologist this week for a routine consultation. Last cycle I was prescribed a lower dose of the chemotherapy drug because my white blood cell count hadn't recovered from the previous treatment. My oncologist told me that it is quite common for people who have had lots of chemotherapy to develop 'tired' bone marrow so we've agreed that I should have the lower dose from now on. This means that I should continue to experience the reduced level of side effects that I've had this cycle though it also means the tumours will be exposed to a lower dose of the drug.

In my last post I wrote that I had some concerns regarding the results of my most recent CT scan. The radiology reports for my last two scans (May and February) stated that there has been some minimal growth in the tumours and I wanted to understand how much growth this meant. Katie and I discussed this with my oncologist and we were able to look at the scan from May and compare it, side by side, with a scan from November. It wasn't possible for us to see any clear changes in tumour size because the scans are very difficult to interpret. The tumours in my liver don't show up at all clearly, they appear very diffuse and, in the main, are not clearly differentiated from normal tissue. The tumour in my abdomen is more obvious but it is very difficult to compare the size as the way my abdominal organs sit next to the tumour means that they distort its shape in different ways on the two scans.

My oncologist advised that because of the difficulties in interpreting CT scans he would not conclude that the cancer has stopped responding to the current drug unless there is a really clear increase in tumour size. He is still positive about the current treatment. We have agreed that I will have two more rounds of the current chemo and we'll then see what the next scan shows. I'm satisfied with the discussion we had and with the approach we've agreed.

To end this post here's another one of the gannets from Bempton Cliffs, if you're in the York area during the late spring or summer I strongly recommend a visit, it really is quite a spectacle - even for those who are not normally bird watchers!