After 7 RFA procedures in 1 1/2 years, my husband John definitely qualified as an expert on RFA for liver mets from the patient’s perspective. At that time, 2006-2007, RFA was “an under-used technology”, according to our interventional radiologist. For John, it was a Godsend– RFA technology became the cornerstone of his treatment regimen for recurrent colon cancer metastases to his liver, eventually completely replacing chemotherapy. Without the sword of Damocles (i.e. chemo) hanging over his head, he was able to enjoy a greatly-improved quality of life.
The treatment protocol he devised with his doctors was this:
1. Monitor CEA levels (a very sensitive marker for recurrence in John’s case) with regular blood tests every 2 months.
2. Whenever the CEA level rose more significantly, even if the new CEA level was well below the standard lab high of greater than 5, follow immediately with a PET scan if the CEA has more than doubled. Otherwise, follow with a CAT scan. If the CT shows a new growth, then follow with a PET.
3. If the PET shows significant metabolic activity, schedule an immediate RFA procedure.
This protocol worked exceedingly well for John. Never, in 7 PET scans was there ever a false positive. Never did John have to wait more than 2 weeks between the PET scan and the actual RFA procedure.
In the remainder of this chapter in Shedding Light on the Cancer Journey: Navigating the Colon Cancer Maze , which is now in E-book format (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3331M) , my husband’s experience reveals detailed answers to nine critical questions about RFA for liver and lung mets, questions asked by every candidate for RFA:
How long does an RFA procedure for liver mets take?
How many tumors can be fried in one RFA procedure?
How does the radiologist know that he has successfully fried a tumor?
What does the patient feel after an RFA procedure?
How long is the recuperation after an RFA?
How long is the hospital stay after RFA?
Along with the answer to this question, I’ve included John’s protocol for being released from the hospital the day after each RFA procedure. He submitted a written version of the protocol to his doctors before each RFA (all heartily concurred with it and universally supported its implementation), and it never failed us in 7 RFA procedures. These three simple steps can assure your early release as well.
What are the possible complications from RFA of liver or lung mets?
Does the liver regenerate where the tumor was killed?
What is the follow-up after an RFA?
During the last year of his life, John had an RFA every 2 months for recurrent liver mets. One day in the hospital and several days of bed rest seemed to him to be a very reasonable price to pay for the peace of mind he was granted, knowing that all visible evidence of cancer in his body had just been eliminated. It is our fond hope that my sharing of his experiences with RFA will encourage many other patients to take advantage of this potential alternative to chemo to improve their own quality of life with cancer.
If you have read this post, it is probably because you believe that you or someone you love may be a candidate for RFA. If that is the case, then you have stumbled upon a rare opportunity to learn first-hand from another colon cancer patient’s four years of experience in navigating the colon cancer maze.
Our doctors told us we were the most informed patient team they had ever encountered– yet we felt utterly lost a great deal of the time. Every cancer patient I’ve talked to felt the same way. We learned so much about The System, and how critical being an informed patient is to getting the treatment you need, how to deal with difficult doctors, troubleshooting and taking charge of pain control– and so much more, none of which you will hear about from your doctor.
You owe it to yourself and your loved one to benefit from all that we learned the hard way. This is the kind of information that, until the publication of this book, could only become part of your database by living through it and realizing in retrospect how all the pieces fit together: colon cancer from the patient’s and caregiver’s point of view. $9.99 seems like a very small price, considering the emotional and physical suffering you will likely be saved by learning from our experience.
Shedding Light on the Cancer Journey: Navigating the Colon Cancer Maze http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004T3331M can now be read on any computer or other reading device. The reader interface is available free from Amazon and is downloadable in seconds.
I will realize absolutely no profit from the sale of this book. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards the support of the 400 monks, nuns and yogis in the seven Tibetan monasteries of Tulku Orgyen Zangpo Rinpoche, who have devoted their lives towards building the foundation for peace and freedom from suffering for all beings in this world.