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Having cancer once is enough, but cancer can return a second and third time, and even become a chronic condition that never goes away completely.
Recurrent cancer is usually the same cancer type. For example, if you had colon cancer originally, it can return in the liver, but it's still colon cancer, but with liver metastasis.
Rarely, a person can develop a new cancer type that isn't related to their first cancer. This is called a second primary cancer.
When cancer returns, it may be difficult to cure, but it can often be kept under control with treatment.
Treatment for recurrent cancer can include some of the same strategies as the first time around, or your oncologist may recommend a totally different strategy, such as a new combination of chemotherapy or biological therapy, radiation and/or surgery.
Cancer cells can become resistant and not respond the same way to treatment. You may have choices that include clinical trials which would give you access to new treatment options that are being studied for your cancer type.
A few things to consider if your cancer returns:
It's not easy to deal with cancer when it returns, so you may find that you need support from those around you more than ever. Taking action to treat the cancer will help you feel a sense of control. Be proactive with your emotional needs along the way. Talk with others who have experienced a similar situation and seek support from your friends and family.
Feel free to share your personal experiences with cancer recurrence on the blog. Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.
Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
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I was dx with stage 3 colorectal cancer 18 mo ago with NO lymph node involvement. All CT's were negative.
After radiation, Chemo, and surgery, I have been doing well.
Today I found out my cea level has jumped from 3.6 in April to 4.6. I am a smoker if that gives you insight. Please no lecturers.
Does anyone here have any insight into rising CEA levels with no symptoms?
I don't do a lot of sharing, but I do do a lot of reading and have been moved,saddened and inspired. I felt the neeed to share today. I to am going thru a recurrence that we knew from the first diagnosis that 90% would be the last battle. An increddibly aggressive form of Thmoma known as Thymic Carcinoma.There was no time for radiation or chemo because of how fast it was spreading.They said a couple weeks later I would of been dead before I hit the pavement because of pressure on main valves etc.
If I got an extra week of life for every comment I get telling me how great and healthy I look and how positive I stay I would ive forever (hahaha)
MY time has been a gift that I have tried hard to live a life that reflects that. But the 2nd time around has changed so many things. I have wonderful friends and a few great family members but even they shy away from cancer talk or the depressing decisions that go along with death.During the holiday (Nov.thru Jan ) season My husband and I made a pact that we would have a cancer free Christmas and holiday. It was made a little more diffucult as nov. was when we found out the cancer returned.But we kept to the pledge and it was a much happier time it also gave me time to grieve in private and make decisions with no interference. Now things are goins the absolutley best they can 2 visits in a row MINIMAL GROWTH!! the best words a woman with an aggressive cancer can hear!!
I have lived for almost four years longer
EVERY DAY A GIFT
This post is a reply to Betty and any other colon/rectal and cancer survivors.
September 20, 2012 6:49 p.m.
I just got diagnosed with stage 2 anal cancer. The CT scan and Pet scan show no other cancer. I have the pump and start chemo Monday. wondering if anyone has information to share on their experience with this type of cancer.
Sorry new to this space and not sure how or if I can directly respond to any post. Everyone should watch a DVD called FORKS OVER KNIVES.
in Aug 2011 I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colorectal cancer (age 34) I have used diet to help with my own healing process. Yes I have gone through a tandum run of chemo and radiation fololowed by surgery and then 6 months of FOLFOX6 and then surgery again. It has been a tough 2 years. I also was diagnosed with an allergy to gluten so that has been fun trying to get around eating things I am so used to eating. There are days when I just give up and eat it anyway. But a diet high in fruits and veggies (raw mostly) and nuts/seeds/berries has done wonders to help. Even if it is only helping me feel good about being proactive and in charge of me. Casein (a protein found in animal products (bacon, burgers, steaks. etc.) directly feeds cancerous cells and so does sugar. So I cut sodas and dairy and meats. I was able to work through most of my treatments, and have been doing well. My TM was up over 8.7 and is now down within "normal" range (I have been told that is down around 1.5 ~ 2)Wish you all luck.
I had laryngeal cancer. There have been no new signs of cancer for two years.
I had chemo and radiation and because of that I had to have a trach.tube inserted among other terrible side effects. All my teeth are rotting from the inside out. The pain in my neck keeps me awake all night. The ENT says it's not from the trach. I think I am losing my mind and if my cancer comes back I cannot endure chemo and radiation again. I pray the Dr's can keep me comfortable because this is not living. Thank you I needed to vent.
I am not eligible for any promising clinical trials, according to my oncologist, which are my best chance of beating this cancer, so I am told. I started out with laryngeal cancer, stage 2, in August 2010. Had 7 weeks radiation, it went away. It came back this April in my right lung...metastatic head and neck. I had 2 wedge resections, margins were good...but it came back again in September. I haven't smoked in years and try to take care of myself. All my doctors say the cancer likely originated, then metastacized, as a direct result of the 12 years of Remicade infusions I received every eight weeks for fistula forming Crohns Disease. The fact that I have an autoimmune disease rules me out of many clinical trials, including gene therapy, which seems the most promising. My first cocktail of chemo, gymcitabine and tarceva, didn't work...the cancer is very aggressive, and 3 tumors multiplied into 6. Ive given up the Remicade and am 6 weeks on cyto-something (sp) and taxol, with a Ct scan thursday. I don't know where to turn b/c I don't fall into any niche...does anyone have any suggestions where to look for promising treatments, or anything? I feel at a complete loss, because I am determined to beat this thing...at least for a number of healthy years, as I am only 47.
Gail, I am glad that you are checking into the Radon connection, as this can be a risk factor for lung cancer. Here is a good link to the Mayo Clinic site as well as the NCI site for more information on radon (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lung-cancer/DS00038/DSECTION=risk-factors, http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/radon).
we bought an old farmhouse in july 2006, i was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, i had my lower left lung removed because of lung cancer. now 3 yrs later it's back. Have you any knowledge of Radon Gas? i had a test set up in my basement and will send it to the lab dec 12th. to find if the levels of radon are high or not. didn't have to have chemo as the cancer was not agressive and was caught early by accident in an xray. my family dr is concerned. says the cancer is in the upper left lung and has spread to the lymph nodes. the dr who did the surgery just sent me a letter for an app't in apr/2013!
I was diagnosed for the 4th time with recurrent ovarian ca. I have taken carboplatin and taxol twice (1st time ca stayed away for 4 yrs., 2nd time only 9 months) Then 3rd time took gemzar and carboplatin (very hard) and this 4th time am on doxil which has been easier but the skin rashes and blisters side effect are so painful, under my arms, around bra line, top of legs, hands. My doc decreased the dose by 10% this time and I did not have chills and fever which I did have after 2nd and 3rd doses. 4th dose decreased seems easier and now I have 2 doses remaining and the ca125 ca antigen marker has decreased from 82 in May to 13 now, so I am hopeful. So far it has not touched an organ. It is a very difficult road and I always question whether I should do this again and again. I am 66 and have been married to the same wonderful man for 47 years. He is by my side and taking care of me always. He keeps me going. My moods do go up and down as I contemplate what this does to me. I keep trying but it is hard.
I was diagnosed with stage 2 anal cancer November 2008. It was not an easy treatment but it is only 6-8 weeks of radiation with chemo in the first and last weeks. I had quite a few of complications but I got thru it. I assume you have Squamous cell, which I was told by my radiation doctor that if they get the tumor you most likely will not have reacurrent cancer. Good luck to you, I hope you sail through the treatments!
My husband has bladder cancer & has been cut & singed 7 times already & was cancer free for almost 6 months when he went in for his checkup & its back so they think again but this time its not on the bottom of the bladder but at the top & its a big red spot so they are going to take a biopsy to find out if its cancer back again & more agressive this time. I am so worried & scared & don't know what to do if I am left without him. I wake up in the middle of nights & walk the floor.If its cancer they want to cut again & this time a bigger peice.
My mother was recently diagnosed with a poorly-differentiated tumor on her kidney. Previously, she has had breast cancer and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
She is 90 years old and weak. I believe her choice will be between treatment and allowing the cancer to run its cortse.
My recurrence occurred within two months of being told NED. I have advanced ovarian cancer and have been fighting this recurrence for over a year with chemotherapy. The first 11 months were not so bad; I tolerated the treatment well and was able to participate in many of my regular activities. (However, I have been on disability for over a year.) Just over a month ago, my tumor markers started to trend upwards and a scan showed new areas of mets. I was switched to Doxil, but again the tumor markers went up, significantly and my symptoms (cramping and bloating) increased. Two weeks ago I was switched to Cisplatin and Gemzar. The first cycle has been tough. It's the first time since before my surgery that I thought I might not be able to make it through. My husband has been supportive, but won't/can't face the idea that we won't be growing old together. I try to take each day at a time and treat each day as a gift, but it is hard when you feel like curling up and staying in bed all day. I know I'll keep fighting, but there are some days I wonder for how long. Those are hard things for my family to hear.
I was diagnosed in early '07 with State 4, Metastic Breast Cancer. Had all the treatment: chemo, surgery (double mast. and lymph nodes removed under one arm), and radiation. Have been on Arimedex since 12/07 and am still doing well. No recurrence as yet. Anna, sometimes you have to pick the peeps that you want to share with. Some peeps can't deal with dire health subjects. I have been fortunate that I can talk to friends (some better than others) and my family. I am open and honest about my situation and I look at everyday as a gift. I find things to laugh at every day, even if I am the only one getting the joke! Party of one!!!
Since cancer can be such a painful condition-and can recur too-I hope u guys don't mind if I put forward spiritual solutions as aids to total cure.I have seen some people cure themselves of severe cancers through the study and application of Nichiren Buddhist spirituality-that I also practise.This is,of course,usually in addition to the standard medical treatment.
I am in my third re occurrence the question is always there how many more times. Or is this the time it is going to take my life. I truly do not know if I could take another round. I am one of those that the doctor tells me they can not cure it but hope to put it in remission. As far as confiding in friends I find that they tend to change the subject and are not comfortable with cancer discussion. It is a lonely journey. Sorry I try to stay upbeat but there are times I just cannot lift my spirits. Tomorrow is another day.
I've had two brain tumor surgeries - craniotomy in 1990 and Gamma-knife Radiosurgery in 2001 for a rare type of tumor called Central Neurocytoma. Because of the tendency to recurr, CN has been reclassified from 'Benigh' to Grade II.
I've also had two bouts of breast cancer. I remember the frightening feeling when the recurrence was found. But better medicine has been approved and I had mastectomy and 22 weeks of TCH before lowered MUGA score forced me to stop. It's been more than 5 years since the 'local-regional' recurrence and I've been doing well.
Mother had been treated for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma about 5 years before my breast cancer diagnosis. It wasn't until late 2007, when I learned about my 2nd Brother's colon cancer surgery and treatment, that I found out through research a cluster called HNPCC (Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colon Cancer)might explain our family cancer incidents. The cluster includes cancers in the brain, breast, colon, small intesting, reproductive organs and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
I also found out that I have a BRCA1-VUS which put me in higher risk for ovarian cancer and uterine cancer. My request was approved and I underwent a prophylactic hysterectomy/oophorectomy in 2010. The surgeon informed us that there was evidence of hyperplasia in the uterine lining.
My complexion has become much better and I feel healthier and happier than ever!
I haven't had those type of cancers but I had breast cancer 5 yrs ago, after extensiive treatment was free of it for 3.5 yrs and then the same breast cancer returned in my abdomen as peritoneal cancer. I have been treating it with chemo for over 2 yrs now and I am getting along quite well but I never know when it will suddenly get worse or the chemo won't work anymore. It's definitely a "live one day at a time" thing. But I have already lived 5.5 yrs since I was first diagnosed so I do have a lot to be thankful for, I'd say! Of course, I'd like to keep on living, too!!
Im in the rarely category, I had breast cancer, then 4 yrs later endometrial cancer and now 5 yrs ago Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. The other 2 had surgery and chemo and all good. This one in watch and wait but as have immunoglobulin anemia undergo monthly treatments of IVIG. And yes it is frightening as I never know when it will get worse.
I have malignant melanoma the second time. It has successfully treated once again. Is there anyone out there who has had this experience?
I just got diagnosed with stage 2 anal cancer.
The CT scan and Pet scan show no other cancer.
I have the pump and start chemo Monday. wondering if anyone has information to share on their experience with this type of cancer.
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