Posted by: Stressed wife | 2009-08-18


A year ago my husband was diagnosed and treated with small cell lung cancer (chemo, radiation &  brain radiation after clear tests on completion of all other treatments) surgery was performed but tumour location on outside of lung near major arteries was too risky and only biopsy was done in theater. Our medical aid declared him " healthy"  post 3 months from last treatment and now refuse to pay for any follow-up procedures (Profmed). Science, however on my research are not as positive as they are and seem to still classify him as a cancer patient. Follow-up tests are very costly and our oncologist has recommended that only a blood test to be done every 3 months (first f/up was clear - scan,etc.). How accurate is a blood test in determining whether other testing needs to be done? He has placed his faith 100% in his oncologist and so have I, but I remain concerned that due to the aggressive nature of this cancer, it is not enough and though money is tight, if one has to make a plan and sacrifices, then that needs to be done. I am hesitant to query the doctor.

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Our expert says:
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Dear Stressed wife
What stage of cancer was he diagnosed with? If he has metastatic cancer (outside of the lungs) it is unlikely that he can be declared "healthy". Discuss with the oncologist - they will probably have "standard" follow up tests that they do. I am sure if you explain your concerns to the oncologist that he will not resent your questions on whether he feels that there are extra tests that needs to be done. Ask him to explain the prognosis to you too - if your husband is going to get sicker no matter what they do, it is not worth getting into debt for extensive tests that will not make a difference in his treatment or prognosis in the end. Rather use the money then to make the time left to him comfortable and enjoyable.
Dr Bets

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Our users say:
Posted by: Stressed wife | 2009-08-19

The good news is the tests were all clear yesterday (now 9 months since last treatment) - the tumour was approx 5 x 7cm x 1cm but no mutations were found and he is currently enjoying excellent health other than the chemo side-effects still lingering (neuropathy), my question is more whether a blood test only provides enough answers regarding cancer present in the body or not?

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