Monday, April 1, 2013

The Cancer Blog: Week 10

My Health


This blog within a blog will discuss cancer and all of my fears, hopes and expectations for a positive outcome—full and complete recovery. In addition, I plan to throw in some latest medical research. All cancer patients are interested, to some degree, in research and the latest medical findings; I am no exception. Today is Day 105 living with cancer

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I  received my CT scan results a couple of weeks ago; it was actually two separate scans: one of my lower pelvic area and the other of my lungs. The pelvic area showed nothing unusual or abnormal, but as for the lungs there is some concern. Here's what my report said:
Impression: A dominant right middle lobe is demonstrated. this lesion may represent inflammatory or infectious process, however is concerning for metastasis. Other non-specific nodules are seen, while several of these lesions are consistent with small airways disease/mucous plugging, others are concerning for metastases.
The medical community has its own arcane language, which like all such languages is not easily accessible to the general public. So, I called my oncologist, Dr. Chan for clarification. In simple terms, I have some calcification in parts of my lungs, likely due to an old infection that never completely went away; its called calcified garnulomata, which is often asymptomatic. This does not pose any immediate health risks. 

Dr Chan decided to prescribe an antibiotic to relieve if not reduce the inflammation; for ten days I have been taking  Levofloxacin (500 mg), part of a class of anti-bacterial medications called quinolones. The doctor also said that he would schedule another CT scan for mid-April, for two reasons: as a measure of precaution and to compare the later scan with the previous one, chiefly to note any changes. Such is part of modern medicine, taking a comparative approach.

Last week, before undergoing my chemo treatment (no. 4), I casually mentioned to the assessing nurse I had developed a mouth sore, another side effect. She quickly got in touch with Dr. Chan, who immediately prescribed a mouthwash, which contains Diphenyhydramine (an antihistamine, known by its trade name Benadryl), Nyastatin Suspension (an anti-fungal medication), Dexamethasone (a corticosteroid), and Distilled Water. It has worked its wonders, and my sore is gone,

Just last week, on the same day that I had my chemo session. I had posted an article that reported the benefits of such mouthwashes in fighting cancer. It's encouraging to see how modern medicine and science are working together to not only treat cancer, but also to do what it can to reduce the side effects. Then there's the scientific finding that a dietary fibre intake of at least 20 grams a day can reduce the incidents of stroke and also fight against colorectal cancer.

2 comments:

  1. Here are some letters to the editor in the New York Times about cancer care and costs:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/opinion/treating-cancer-patients-and-costs.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0
    Canada, I gather, has been able to deal with this problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have read both the cited article, with which I generally agree, and some of the letters. I am not sure if Canada's system is better than the U.S's in terms of outcomes, but it might be better in both patient expectations and the use of resources. My personal experience as a cancer patient at one of Canada's best research hospitals, Sunnybrook, has been excellent.

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