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Colon Cancer

What to expect

12/07/2006

Question:

My 74 yr. old father has stage 4 colorectal cancer. His last PET scan showed areas in the pericardium, lung (he had 2/3 of right lung removed 6 months ago when it spread there.)and two other places. He tried one round of Xeloda and became very ill and ended up in the hospital for 3 weeks. He will not take the Xeloda again, but I am afraid he can`t tolerate anything stronger since he had such a bad reaction. He`s thinking of not continuing treatment. He`s at 137 lbs now (he`s 6 ft tall), has a fairly good appetite, but feels very weak. He told me he`ll forget the treatment and "go out painlessly." Would that be the case? Will the cancer eventually cause significant pain? We don`t know what to expect or what the progression of the disease entails.

Answer:

There are a variety of symptoms a patient with colorectal cancer will experience in the final stages. Pain is not necessarily one of them. If he refuses any further treatment, I would recommend hospice to be involved to help manage any symptoms complicating his cancer. Please note that Xeloda is one of many effective treatment options in colon cancer. If your father decides to go back on therapy, then perhaps a reduction in the dose of the Xeloda or an a different form of therapy could still give a chance at a response. 

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Response by:

Tanios   Bekaii-Saab, MD Tanios Bekaii-Saab, MD
Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology
Associate Professor of Pharmacology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University