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Not offered chemo

Posted by

Hiya my hubby has been diagnosed at age 48 with rectal cancer (family history and symptoms made me urge him to have colonoscopy). He's had mri and ct scan, and been told his lung and liver look clear (although consultant wants repeat ct to double check liver?) the mdt initially advising radio and surgery... My question is, why not chemo? Is that a good or a bad sign? Thank you so much, we are due a chat next week but I wanted to ask here first. 

Ellen M-Macmillan
Posted by

Hi ,

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

It’s understandable why you ‘re questioning the treatment that has been recommended for you husband. And to ask if it’s a good or a bad thing not to be offered chemotherapy. It depends on the stage of your hubby’s cancer and the risk of his cancer coming back after treatment. And they also take into account these other factors;

whether the cancer is in the low, middle or high part of your rectum

how far it has grown or spread (the stage) - for rectal cancers, doctors use the TNM staging system

how abnormal the cells look under a microscope (the grade)

whether the cancer has spread into blood vessels

whether the cancer has spread into the sheet of tissue surrounding the rectum.

They also consider his general health and fitness level. Once you both go back and see the doctors next week they will talk to you both about the treatment, its benefits and the possible side effects.

This information from Cancer Research UK explains the different treatment options and why decisions are made in more detail.

It’s common for the doctors to ask for a repeat scan to double check an area. A scan of the liver often shows areas that are difficult to interpret and doctors often ask for a repeat scan. They are not doing this because they think it is something they are making sure they are not missing anything. You would rather they were cautious.

Waiting for results of scans and final decisions about treatments can be an anxious time for you both. It can be helpful to prepare for your chat with the doctors next week. We have this information about questions that can be helpful to ask.

We have different ways that we can support you. I can see that you’ve already joined our very supportive bowel cancer group. That’s great to see as there is nothing quite like the support that you can get from others who know what it’s like.

You can also give us a call to our Support Line on 0808-808-0000. Our lines are open every day from 8am till 8pm

I hope all goes okay next week when you both go back and see the doctors. If you have any further questions that you want to ask us, please feel free to contact us again.

Best wishes and take care.

Ellen-Macmillan Online Digital Nurse Specialist.