I saw the oncologist today. My scan showed no change from last time. There is still a mass in the right iliac fossa which is unchanged, but no evidence of peritoneal or liver secondaries.
What am I to make of this. The mass is a combination of thickening of the wall of the cecum plus enlarged lymph nodes. As it is unchanged I have to assume that it is as small as it can get and that it consists of fibrous tissue. Being a hollow viscus the cecum has a certain diameter and won't shrink down to nothing. Tumors smaller than 5mm cannot be seen by CT so anything left is below the limits of detection. Until something larger appears I must rely on symptoms to alert me to the presence of cancer.
How are the symptoms? Well I still have a noisy stomach as food rattles through new passages made by the surgeon. I still get stomach cramps, but these are lessening day by day and I think are still the last stripes of the chemotherapy. My bowels haven't quite settled down yet to their normal rhythm.
If there is no change since November's scan, did I need to have all that extra chemotherapy? I guess so. In hematology we would call it consolidation. I trust that the chemo was killing undetectable disease and reducing the number of cancer cells remaining in the body. We know that when we get a complete remission in acute leukemia, there may be as many as 1 billion leukemia cells left in the body, and unless we go in consolidating, we will have a relapse within a few months. I guess it is the same with solid tumors.
Anyway, I should have my line out next week and be able to spend teh summer unencumbered.