Bone cancer

A place for people affected by primary bone cancer (including osteosarcoma, Ewing's sarcoma and chondrosarcoma) to support one another, ask questions, and share their experiences.

Not curable, but treatable?? What does this mean?

Sally D
Posted by
Well, Andrew has had his operation. After many roller-coster moments, with false hopes and scares, we were finally told they HADN'T remover the tumour as it was 'stuck' to the peritoneal wall, bladder and prostate. To have removed it could have meant he would have bled to death.. He also has been given a colostomy bag, which he had been dreading.

They said they would do chemo, and radiotherapy to shrink the tumour, and maybe one day, as they said it WOULD grow back, they may re-operate to 'de-bulk' it if it is pressing on nerves
They said it was treatable but not curable. What does this mean?

We are devastated, because the surgeon had been so positive before the op.
I don't even know what time frame we are looking at.
The specialty nurse to the surgeon had talked about years, 5 and more, and she had had all the notes made by the surgeon, yet he next day, with the same information, there was no mention of that by the surgeon, though we didn't ask either.(Andrew was present then)

Can anyone help me understand what they mean, and give me any idea what to ask? I am broken-hearted, and in the dark. I don't know if I am looking at 2 years, 5 years or 10 years.....

Posted by
Hello Sally,
I'm so sorry that things have turned out this way for you and your husband. I can only imagine how he must be feeling having found out he has got the bag that he had been dreading. I know how much you have been through too emotionally and it must be devastating getting this sort of news. I'm sorry I can't answer your questions but just wanted to say I am thinking of you both and hoping that someone will be able to share their knowledge of this with you.
Take care

pheonix xxx
Posted by
I come into the category of treatable but not curable which means that I'm in palliative care (they try to keep your cancer as stable as they can but, realistically, I won't ever be in remission).

I have advanced breast cancer and although I'm on chemo it's about trying to keep my tumours (in my liver and spine) from growing any more.

Hope this goes some small way to understanding the 'treatable but not curable' statement. Mind you, there isn't a cure for breast cancer at the moment anyway!
Posted by
Hi Sally.

My other half is having his op as we speak. Hoping it will be a good result for him.

Spoke to a nurse yesterday and she said that 'treatable' means with operations, chemo, possibly radiotherapy and drugs, whatever it needs to keep the growths from 'growing' or to slow their growth down, and to prolong life in as good a health as possible. People can live for a few years with 'treatable' cancers. I hope things work out for you.

Take care. Kim

Its a challenge - isn't it???

Posted by

The problem with carcinoma we use other words to talk about a condition you can see in other illness. When a cancer is not curable but treatable it means doctors would do everything for the illness to become a chronic condition, like other illness are ...HIV, Diabetes, heart condition....

So treatable means : chronic illness.

So cancer patient in this stage could live longer with the right therapy.

Posted by
My husband has bowel/liver cancer, he was told in April that it was a stage 4 , they removed the bowel tumour and he has just finished 6 cycles of chemo. His scan two weeks ago showed a huge reduction on the three lesions on the liver, they are resectionable. Next Tues he goes into Kings in London for surgery, we went yesterday and saw Prof Rela,who said
normally we don`t say that a stage 4 is curable, but its treatable. But only 10% of peole with liver secondaries are suitable for resection, out of that 10%, 10% of those people will go on to be cured, if we get you to 5 years without a recurrence we class you as cured. We`ll see..............


Posted by
Like Sheena, I also fall into the category of treatable but not curable. I have advanced ovarian cancer, and am having chemo at the moment but rather than palliative care, such as Sheena is receiving, I am having active care – aggressive care to get rid of/reduce the remaining tumours. However, there is no cure for advanced ovarian cancer, and I have been told that it will return. My oncologist and his team will not give me any prognosis - they say that they do not know when my cancer it will be back, nor can they give me any idea of how long I may live . . . all they will say is that when it returns, they will treat me again. Any prognosis depends on how I respond to treatment so they cannot and will not offer me any times. Quite frankly I don't want to know – I’m sure I'm getting the best possible treatment, I seem to be responding well to chemo, so I'm just getting on with the present bout. When the cancer returns – well, I shall just have to deal with it again but in the meantime I'm trying to put it out of mind and concentrate on getting through this first struggle.
So much is perspective, isn’t it? When you have had a very optimistic initial diagnostic it must be difficult to cope with the ‘treatable but not curable scenario’. However, if you are told initially that you are incurable, and then see the statistics for your disease. . . well, as soon as you hear the word ‘treatable’ your spirits lift! I know you must be sick of hearing of this – but just take a day at a time.
Orion makes an important point, which has frequently been mentioned to me by my oncologist and his team. Treatable cancer can be considered like other ‘chronic’ diseases, such as diabetes. The final outcome may not be the same but for the time being the cancer can be controlled by medication. And of course, advances in treatment are being made every day.
I’m sorry to have waffled on so much – thinking of you and sending you hugs.
Love, Kate xxx
Posted by
Hi Kate

Although I'm classed as in palliative care I'm not, at the moment. in 'active' palliative care, as I'm not seeing my Macmillan Nurse or District Nurse as I was two years ago when my liver was pretty bad. I was given a prognosis at that time of a few months and told to get my affairs in order but, as you say, advances in treatment are being made all the time and I know that being on chemo all this time has stopped my tumours from progressing (at the present time).

Like you, living with advanced breast cancer, means it's only a matter of time before my tumours in my spine and liver start growing again but, hopefully, with the chemo I've been on for the past two years, will keep it at bay for a lot longer.

Unfortunately the other post above re liver secondaries doesn't fit in with my prognosis that once you reach 5 years you're 'cured' as I've been living with breast cancer for the past 14 years, 4 of which have been with secondaries but there is no 'cure' (at the moment)