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Do you have a question about cancer? Our Digital Nurse Ellen or one of our specialist nurses will aim to respond within 2 working days.


Posted by

Hi , 

Mums is looking at Tamoxifen for her ovarian cancer. 

Its inoperable and chemotherapy is so hard for her to take I don’t think we are going to proceed with more of that .

At 78 it’s a lot to take .

Any thought or experience with this drug ? 

Many thanks

paul Sasha & Yvonne ( Mum)!

Ellen M-Macmillan
Posted by

Hi PaulA-007 (paul Sasha & Yvonne)

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

I’m sorry to read that your mum’s cancer is inoperable and from what you’re saying it sounds as if she is finding the side effects of her chemotherapy too hard to take.

Treatment decisions are made by a group of experts called a MDT. They need to know the type, grade and how far the cancer has spread, but they also need to consider someone’s general health and fitness before decisions are made.

You’re right at 78 it can be a lot to take. But age on its own shouldn’t be a barrier to having treatment. It’s about whether someone can tolerate the side effects of the drugs. Doctors and patients often have to make difficult decisions about what to do next when this happens. As they need to weigh up the benefits of the treatments versus the risks.

Tamoxifen is a drug that is often used to treat breast cancer. It can also be used to treat ovarian stromal tumours but it is rarely used to treat advanced epithelial ovarian cancer. This information explains this in more detail.

We would suggest you make an appointment with your mum to talk to her oncologist about how the treatment has affected her. They will be able to discuss what they would recommend next. They may suggest reducing the dose of her chemotherapy in the first instance or giving your mum a treatment break. But they would also be able to say whether Tamoxifen would be an option in your mum’s circumstances.

Ultimately the final decision about whether your mum would continue to have further chemotherapy treatment will be your mums to make. No one will force her to have anything she doesn’t want and that is making her more unwell.

I see from your activity that you’ve already joined our supportive Ovarian cancer group that’s great to see. There is nothing quite like the support that you can get from others who know what it’s like.

Ovacome UK are a charity that also supports anyone affected by Ovarian cancer, you might find their information helpful to look at too.

Sometimes it can help to talk to us on our Support Line and if that is something that you think would be helpful to do then give us a call on 0808-808-0000.

Best wishes and take care.

Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.

Posted by

Many thanks for taking the time to reply . 

We are back to see the oncologist on Wednesday. The chemo was reduced after the first session ( carboplatin ) . This really wiped mum blood count out . The reduced chemo for the next two treatment was not as bad but by the third one she needed 4 more transfusions and platelets. 

We will will have another chat on Wednesday but Mum not really want to go on with the chemotherapy. The tablets seem easier for her to be able to cope with but I’m unsure as to how she will respond. I assume they are no cure but can help stop the cancer from spreading correct? Can I ask is this usually successfull?  

I just don’t want mum to go through a awful time with treatment to no end . That’s my main concern and no one really wants to talk of has explained a thing re any time scale .

we cannot be the first people with these worries I know when starting this new tamoxifen treatment .

I know it’s just a wait and see I suppose........ 

Thanks again and we are staying strong 

Paul Sasha and Yvonne 

Ellen M-Macmillan
Posted by

Hi Paul, Sasha and Yvonne,

Thanks for your update on what’s been happening with your mum.

It does sound as if your mum’s been having a difficult time. It’s never easy watching someone you love suffer with the side effects of treatments. But it’s understandable that she is not wanting to have any further chemo, and why as a family you’re concerned.

Sadly, you’re right to assume that the treatment will not cure your mum’s cancer, but for some people it can shrink the cancer and slow down its progression. And, in some cases, it can prevent it from spreading whilst helping with symptoms it causes. The difficulty is that no one can say whether this will be successful for your mum. This is because everyone is different, and their cancer is unique to them. That’s why doctors often find it difficult to give time scales for individuals.

It can help to prepare questions to ask the doctors. You might want to ask them if they are able to give you “average figures” But it’s important to bear in mind that some people may live longer than average whilst others may not live as long.

However, her doctors may be happier answering your question once they have seen if the treatment is working for your mum.

Her hospital team won’t want your mum to go through an awful time either. They want her to have as best a quality of life as she can. Sometimes it can be difficult to get the balance right. But if the treatment can control any symptoms she is having, and despite side effects, she feels better then this would be ideal.

It’s important that you let the doctors know how bad she has been and how she is feeling. No doctor will force her to have treatments that she doesn’t want to have.

No matter what decision your mum makes it has to be the right one for her.

Once you see the doctors on Wednesday and you have more information it can help to make an appointment with your mum’s GP. This can be helpful to do as often letters from hospitals can take a week or two to reach them. This will give you the opportunity as a family to sit down and discuss what support can be put in place to help you look after your mum whether she is having further treatment or not.

It’s worthwhile asking for a referral to a palliative care nurse or Macmillan nurse working in the community. These nurses are experts in managing symptoms, and they also provide that all important emotional support to families too.

Caring for someone with cancer can be rewarding but it can be difficult at times too. So, it’s equally important that you’re all looking after each other and yourselves during this difficult time. We have this search engine that can help you to find support in your local area.

Best wishes and take care.

Please don’t hesitate to get back in touch with us and let us know how your mum gets on tomorrow.

Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.

Posted by

Hi Ellen, 

many thanks for the reply. 

Thats exactly the course of action we are going ahead with . I spoke to mum dedicated cancer nurse and we had a very good chat.

will have more of a chat with consultant tomorrow. We have already had contact with Macmillan nurse. Will also be in contact again

Thanks again so much for your time . It’s very helpful to have some insight and makes us feel much more confident that we are doing all we can.

best wishes 

Paul Sasha and Yvonne