We have some experience looking at these things so this wasn't as crazy as it sounds. Unfortunately we were not prepared for what we saw. Karen's entire right lobe shows up engulfed in tumor. After thinking about it for a while we concluded this must be inflammation from her RFA burn in November.
The radiologist's report came through on Thursday and our nurse Nancy walked us through some of the salient points over the phone. Unfortunately this did not sound good at all. One of her tumors which was 5.6cm is now 10.5cms in diameter. The report made mention of increased growth, progressed disease and so on. So naturally we both lost it and have been struggling pretty much all week. I did not update the blog as I just couldn't bring myself to do it and besides, we didn't truly have things from the horse's mouth.
Today we met with Dr. Dan. He was firm and confident as ever and he walked us through the scan results. We learned a couple of things:
- The radiologist's report was given by taking the scan as a point in time and not in the context of Karen's RFA. Hence a lot of what is seen on there IS due to inflammation.
- Many of the larger tumors have a "classic" ring of calcification indicating necrotic tissue.
- RFA does tend to cause more inflammation and hence increased tumor size than other treatments.
- Karen does still have cancer and it's still growing in there so it's time to start chemo again.
Erbitux is a very new drug [LINK] which works similar to Avastin in that it blocks the tumor from binding to a certain protein it needs. The result is that the tumor shrinks and dies. It's insanely expensive and I need to check with our insurance in case we need pre-approval.
Karen will start chemo (CPT-11) on Thursday (7th). On this plan she'll receive chemo once every 3 weeks and Erbitux (which is technically not a chemo drug) every week. This'll continue for 12 weeks after which she'll have a PET and another CT scan. There are side effects which I'll cover in another post and probably a few other surprises in store but we'll deal.
Net-net we've had some very hard, very dark days this week but we are still kicking and remain confident that Karen is getting the best treatment possible.