Ask Selma!

Q. I was diagnosed with stage 2 colon cancer. I had surgery and the surgeon said she got it all, took 9 inches from my colon and tested 18 lymph nodes which all came back negative. The pathology report came back with the comment “suspicious vascular invasion.” Saw an oncologist and he suggested I get in a study and they will test the tumor more. If it comes back low risk for recurrence, I will need no further treatment. If it comes back high risk then they are suggesting chemo. Well it came back high risk so I am doing chemo and am only 3 days into and am not sure I should be doing it since I don’t have any cancer that I am aware of. I just know I felt so good before the chemo. My surgery was January 9th, home on January 13th and feeling great 3 weeks later. What is your advice on treating something that is not there as far as we know? Thank you.

A. It is very good that you are being proactive in response to your colon cancer pathology and tumor characteristics. Today, technology allows is to get vital information as to the likely behavior of one’s cancer. That is what doctors mean when they talk about “personalized medicine.” In your case, your oncologist would like to minimize your risk of recurrence and so the adjuvant chemotherapy you are receiving is a preventative measure and very wise. I’m afraid that most of us don’t feel so good on the chemo, but there are supportive care measures and you must communicate all you are feeling to your oncology nurse and your doctor. Sometimes a dose adjustment may also be required. Please try to focus on the long term goal and know that the short term treatment you are taking now is meant to give you peace of mind for the future.

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