Response to chemotherapy

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Having waited 5 months from diagnosis to the start of treatment, my husband is now towards the end of his second round of chemo (Cisplatin + Capacitabine). The radiotherapy due to start in a week has been postponed until some lung nodule is investigated. As you can imagine, this isn't doing anything to encourage positivity. Also, he hasn't had any major side-effects from the chemo but neither is he feeling any better - just generally fatigued and grotty. We walk a couple of kilometers each day, his weight with Ensure is stable, but he is coughing up 'purulent' sputum. We won't get any information for at least another week (trying not to feel sidelined) but I need to try and keep on top of my anxiety. Is his response to chemo usual? And is the sputum an indication that the tumour (at the base of the oesophagus) is shedding dead cells? Also, can we insist on having the biopsy tested for biomarkers? We asked and were told tests had been requested but no further information - want to know if there's a second line of treatment if this one is ineffective. 

Any info gratefully received

  • Hi there. I am responding to your post to say that I also had a total of four infusions of Cisplatin and 11 weeks of Capecitabane tablets. I didn’t suffer any of the possible side effects that were possible with this treatment other than fatigue, which you mention is a factor for your husband. The Radiotherapy (for 5 weeks) can also make you more tired and can affect swallowing, particularly towards the end of treatment. It is good that you and your husband are getting out for walks. I found this to be very beneficial and would help me shake off the blues, which are inevitable at times. I had to wait for about six weeks after the 11 week treatment had finished, before any judgement could be made as to whether the cancer had shrunk, and even then it was not conclusive (at least it wasn’t for me). It was only when the histology report came back after the operation, that I was given the final outcome of whether the treatment/operation had been successful. I appreciate the anxiety you are feeling and I found the Nurses at the Chemotherapy unit to be kind and reassuring. I guess from what you have said that your husband is half way through his Chemotherapy treatment which is a result in itself. I wish you both well and hope that you can get reassurance from the medical profession. Best wishes, 

  • Thank you for taking the time to respond - do hope your outcome was positive. Yes, nurses are wonderful. So good to know others have been through similar reactions, and that sites like this exist to support us. Cancer is a community.

  • Hi 

    I don't have any answers to your questions but wanted to say that I too had cisplatin & capecitabine, plus 25 radiotherapy which started on the same day as the second round of cisplatin. I didn't have the operation. I'm on the SCOPE2 trial. I was diagnosed in March 2021. I was very weak when I started treatment - I'd been in hospital for two weeks as unable to swallow anything at all (turned out the tumour had blocked my oesophagus completely) so I was on a drip then had a nasal feeding tube then a stomach feeding tube fitted. I lost weight, had no sleep and was generally exhausted when I came home. I relied on the feeding tube to syringe Fortisip, water and medication and I was still nil by mouth.

    After the first cisplatin the tumour shrank a lot and I was able to nibble on savoury biscuits (they crumble easily and counterbalanced the sweetness of the Fortisip) but still had the Fortisip, medication and water by tube. 

    Towards the end of the radiotherapy swallowing became more difficult as my oesophagus was inflamed but that only lasted a couple of weeks. 

    As I'm on the SCOPE2 trial I had tests every 3 months for the first 2 years, I'm now on 6 monthly tests. I've just had my latest set of tests and spoke to my consultant on Monday who said I'm still all clear. That's 2.5 years. Amazing. 

    I hope you get some answers soon. The waiting is awful. 


  • Thank you. Yes my outcome was positive, and I wish the same for your husband. I have written a blog (just click on my username) that details my story. Best wishes, Julie