Remission....Don't ya just hate that word?

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Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 140
   Posted 3/1/2010 1:47 PM (GMT -6)   
Having survived stage III colon cancer in 1996, and a recurrence to the lung in 2000 (stage IV) I was always told by oncologists my Colon Ca was in "remission."  To me....that is like saying there are cancer cells hiding somewhere in my body just waiting to ambush my physical and mental health at some point in the future.  I always wanted to think  my colon cancer ceased to exist when the upper left lobe of my left lung was surgically removed at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philly, and I only took one of the prescribed twenty four chemo treatments beginning in August 2000.  Glad I skipped the other 23, for chemo can predispose a person to cancer later in life, and I did go through 18 chemo treatments in 1996.  If these treatments had worked at all, they didn't prevent a recurrence of my Colon ca to my lung four years later.  Anyway, they look for a recurrence of colon cancer by checking a person's blood for CEA, and yes, mine did start climbing when that tumor was growing in my lung.  Post lung surgery, it  returned to the 1.1 range, and has stayed there ever since.  With a diagnosis of Prostate Ca, I've just traded my CEA worries to PSA worries.  But what the heck!  I'm three weeks out from open prostatectomy today, have 98% urine control, and 80% erectile function.  I've taken matters "to hand" daily since the catheter was removed one week ago, and I'm happy I can reach orgasm.  I'd say the sensation is only about 20% pre-surgery levels, but I'm hoping for improvemement.  The swelling in my testicles has subsided, but I continue to experience some groin pain and urethra irritation.  I'm sure that will subside in time too.  When my original biopsy showed gleason six with 3 of 10 cores positive, I did find one protocol that would have accepted me into "active surveillance."  The thought of going that route lasted about ten minutes, and I have absolutely no regrets of going through an open prostatectomy.  I knew there was a chance of my pathology being upgraded when the pathologist was done slicing and dicing my prostate as it lay on the table before him, and that's exactly what happened.  Pre-op=Gleason Six, Post-op=Gleason Seven.  Now it's just a matter of waiting for the Nadir PSA on May 8th.........Beautiful day here in JAX.......Rickyeah
1996, Age 48, Stage III Colon Ca, Colon Resection followed by 18 chemo treatments.
2000, Colon Ca Metastasis to upper left lung lobe.  Lung lobe surgically removed.  24 chemo treatments scheduled.  Took 1, declined the rest.
9/08 PSA is 2.8, 12/08 PSA is 4.56??  Chalk it up to prostatitis due to urinary retention after Nissen Fundo Surgery.  VA docs prescribe 30 days of Septra.  Prostate feels normal.  PSA hovers around 4.1.  VA docs want prostate biopsy but can't seem to get me into the schedule.  Continue through Spring and Fall of 2009 thinking I have prostatitis.  Bacteria cultures are always neg.  PSA drops to 3.1 10/09.
12/09 Prostate Biopsy performed
3 of 10 cores positive, 5%, 25%, & 35%, 3 + 3= Gleason Six with perineural invasion.
Doc wants CT Scan due to prior Colon Ca. Findings: "The seminal vesicles are irregular & there is nodularity in the periprostatic fat such that local extension cannot be excluded.  Shotty lymph nodes in both groin measuring 2.3 cm."
Doc wants Endo-rectal MRI (OUCH!) Findings: Mild central zone BPH, no discrete focus of carcinoma is identified, no evidience of invasion into the periprostatic fat or seminal vesicles.  Normal size iliac chain lymph nodes.
2/08/10 Open RP surgery.  Findings: Gleason Six upgraded to Seven.  3 + 4, Stage pT2c, Bilateral w/perineural invasion, No pos lymph nodes,  margins uninvolved, no extraprostatic extension, no seminal vesicle extension,  39 grams, blood loss 1200 ml (didn't want a transfusion & didn't get one) nerve bundles spared bilaterally.  current age-61

James C.
Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4463
   Posted 3/1/2010 1:59 PM (GMT -6)   
Glad to hear you are still recovering nicely, even if with your history, you seem to be leaving your body one piece at a time--or maybe it's your body leaving you... smilewinkgrin
You are really having a remarkable recovery.
James C. Age 62
Co-Moderator- Prostate Cancer Forum
4/07 PSA 7.6, referred to Urologist, recheck 6.7
7/07 Biopsy: 3 of 16 PCa, 5% involved, left lobe, GS 3/3=6
9/07 Nerve sparing open RRP 110gms.- Path Report: GS 3+3=6 Stg. pT2c, 110gms, margins clear
32 mts: PSA's: .04 each test since surgery, ED Continues-Bimix .3ml PRN or Trimix .15ml PRN

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2009
Total Posts : 2692
   Posted 3/1/2010 5:45 PM (GMT -6)   
I think remission is a much better word than metastisis, but I agree it has that lurking sound to it.

Sound slike your recovery is going super great.

Good luck.
Age 58, PSA 4.47 Biopsy - 2/12 cores , Gleason 4 + 5 = 9
Da Vinci, Cleveland Clinic  4/14/09   Nerves spared, but carved up a little.
0/23 lymph nodes involved  pT3a NO MX
Catheter and 2 stints in ureters for 2 weeks .
Neg Margins, bladder neck negative
Living the Good Life, cancer free  6 week PSA  <.03
3 month PSA <.01 (different lab)
5 month PSA <.03 (undetectable)
6 Month PSA <.01
1 pad a day, no progress on ED.  Trimix injection
No pads, 1/1/10,  9 month PSA < .01

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 669
   Posted 3/1/2010 5:55 PM (GMT -6)   
Sunbird, nobody should have to battle 2 different types of cancer. But you appear to be a real fighter and survivor. So far your PCa results are going well (aside from the upgrade to a Gleason 7). I wish you all the best.
Gleason, 3+4; PSA, 7.9
Robotic Prostatectomy, March 2008 (Age 48 then), nerves both sides spared, post surgery analysis confirmed 3+4 Gleason,
pT2c, prostate 60.2g, margins: negative; perineural invasion: present; lymphatic invasion: present; 3 lymph nodes removed, clear; seminal vesicle invasion: absent; Gleason 4 comprises 5-10% of carcinoma
PSA consistently <0.1 since surgery until Oct 09, 0.1; retested Oct 09, <0.1,
Jan 10, 0.2
retest Feb 1 confirmed 0.2
CT scan, bone scan Feb 10 both clear

English Alf
Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2009
Total Posts : 2217
   Posted 3/2/2010 3:14 AM (GMT -6)   

Part of your PCa journey seems a bit like mine,
PSa and biopsy and the pre-op Gleason suggest you are in the medium risk category and then wham the post op pathology upgrades you, and you're thinking, phew! What next.

Hope you do well.

Don't like the word remission either, they might as well call it Anxious Waiting.

Alfred - fully signed up member of ther Anxious Waiting Club, (but trying to join Calm Waiting Club.)

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2007
Total Posts : 447
   Posted 3/2/2010 4:06 AM (GMT -6)   
Yes,   I can see your point about the word "remission"...
I have the same feelings about the words "biochemical recurrence"...
After 3-4 years of annual PSA 4-6, biopsy recommended
3/13/2007 - 12 point biopsy - Left 0/6  Right 1/6 Gleason 3+3 T1c
4/24/2007 - DaVinci performed at Virginia Mason hospital in Seattle
5/2/2007 - Catheter Out! Final pathology of Gleason 6  T2c Nx Mx, approx 20% of prostate involved, positive margin, but only at 2 focal points.  
6/28/2007 9 weeks incontinance... Overnite, went from 4-6 soaked pads a day from prev 8 weeks to 2 barely wet pads a day.
7/12/2007 11 weeks post-op  Minimal leakage...  one small pad a day
7/18/2007 First Post-Op PSA...  0.01 !!! 
9/10/2007 Pad free and ED at 75% with 100mg Viagra generic
6/26/2008 2nd Post-OP PSA at 14 months...  0.02 
12/2/2008 3rd Post-OP PSA at 20 months...   0.03
10/30/2009 4th Post-OP PSA at 31 months...   0.13 (moved and diff lab)
11/3/2009 Retest at my original lab...  0.11  (followup with Doc sched 11/10)
11/10/2009 Discussion indicated biochemical reccurrence and need for salvage radiation treatment. 
1/21/2010 Another PSA test at 34 months...  0.14
1/26/2010 IMRT Salvage Radiation Treatment started
                  32 sessions for 64 gys total.
2/26/2010 22 down and 10 to go...  No side effects to date except a little
tiredness.  Sometimes feel like a slight sunburn on the inside for a few hours after treatment.

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