Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Brother Update

Had a couple of doctor's appointments with my brother recently and we got some not-fabulous news.

Steve had a PET scan in the last couple of weeks and we saw the oncologist on Friday to go over it. The results of the PET scan were mixed. The tumor in his lung originally started at 1.8 mm. When we saw Dr. J for the previous PET scan results, he told us it had shrunk to 1 mm and we were thrilled. On Friday he said the tumor measured 1.7 mm. As opposed to it shrinking and growing again, Dr. J explained that it had probably never shrunk as much as they had initially thought. Apparently the PET scan is only accurate to within a centimeter or so, so this tumor is really too small for them to measure accurately with the PET. He also explained the reason for the apparent shrinkage from last time. Basically he likened it to comparing slices of a tennis ball. If you take a slice from the middle and compare it to a slice from the very top, they're not going to appear to be the same size, even though the tennis ball hasn't changed size.

So, all that said, Steve has completed 6 months of chemo with not a lot of response and Dr. J's next step is to have the tumor removed surgically, which was always the plan. While I'm left feeling sort of like the chemo has been a waste of time, Dr. J reminded us that the chemo most likely has eradicated any other hot spots that might have been undetectable.

We met with the surgeon yesterday. Dr. M seems very nice and competent and has scheduled Steve for a CT scan for next Monday to get a better idea of size and placement of the tumor. It will also help to detect if there are any other nodules inside the lung that will need to be removed. We were hoping they could do a video-assisted thorascopic surgery, but due to his weight, the surgeon is doubtful that will be possible. That means instead a surgery requiring a large incision under his right armpit. Also, depending on the results of the CT scan, which will show them where exactly the tumor is located, it might be necessary to do a more major surgery than just a biopsy of the tumor or removing only the wedge where it's located. If it's placed too far inside, as opposed to on the surface of the lung, it might actually be necessary to remove the entire lobe of the lung where it's located. Dr. M reassured us that most people who have a lobe removed fully recover and never even notice they're missing it. Recovery time should be anywhere from 3-6 weeks. (Interesting fact I did not know: your right lung has three lobes while the left lung only has two.)

Steve'll have the CT while I'm out on vacation and the follow-up with Dr. M and surgery will be scheduled for the next few weeks after I'm back. That's all the news for now, but please keep sending your good karma our way. ♥

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