Sunday, January 28, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0431 - "Soft Tissue" and Recurrent Cancer

At the very least, my recent medical tests are giving me more subjects to research. I suppose doing this kind of reading may not be psychologically beneficial; after all, looking at CT and MRI images of recurrent rectal cancer leads to pessimistic thoughts, especially when the profiles of some of the individuals treated appear so similar to my own. On the other hand, even though I don't have the medical training required to fully appreciate the details of the academic papers, I get the gist quite readily. It doesn't take too long to break through the technical jargon to understand most (not all) of the issues.

A few things are very clear. Local recurrence of rectal cancer can be incredibly difficult to diagnose. Recurrence can happen very quickly after rectal resection surgery. CT scans and MRI images and CEA laboratory tests can all be ambiguous. Patients can have no symptoms of consequence and yet still be at very high risk. (See Recurrent Rectal Cancer: Diagnosis with MR Imaging versus CT).

Many other things are not at all clear, not just to a patient like myself, but to those practitioners who deal with such medical issues on a daily basis.

My medical oncologist has referred to the growth of "soft tissue" around the anastomosis. Right now, everthing seems "soft". The diagnosis is "soft". The prognosis is "soft". My sense of optimism is "soft". The statistics are "soft". I'd really like to be getting something more definitive, but I guess that is something I'll just have to get used to - it seems to be an integral part of this unwanted journey.

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