Gransnet forums

Health

Palliative Chemotherapy

(28 Posts)
mrsmopp Sun 05-Dec-21 15:50:27

Is anyone familiar with this expression? I never heard of it before but it was mentioned in a letter from my consultant to my GP. I have recurring gynae cancer and have had surgery several times. I’m wondering if this is bad news. I have an appointment in 10 days time. Maybe someone on here has experience of this?

Oldbat1 Sun 05-Dec-21 16:57:50

Sorry to read you’ve recurring cancer. These terms are such a worry especially when reading them in a letter. My DH has been on palliative chemotherapy from Jan to July this year as his cancer is now deemed incurable due to metastasis to two other areas. He had original diagnosis in 2013 (no symptoms) two surgeries and placed on chemotherapy regime twice. He still has had no cancer symptoms - it all seems unreal. Awaiting latest scan results for cancer progression. Good luck.

MissAdventure Sun 05-Dec-21 17:14:48

My daughter was given it, mrsmopp.

crazyH Sun 05-Dec-21 17:44:54

I have no idea what palliative chemotherapy is , but separately, I think I know what they mean.
Whatever they do mean mrsmopp, I hope you benefit from the treatment. Thinking of you x.

crazyH Sun 05-Dec-21 17:45:36

Thinking of you mrsmopp and everyone going through a difficult time xx

Greyduster Sun 05-Dec-21 18:01:50

My DH is about to undergo this treatment, having been diagnosed in late September. Where a cure is not possible, the aim is to shrink and control the disease and improve both quality of life and survival time. About all I can tell you really. I’m sure you will be in very good hands going forward. Xx

Greyduster Sun 05-Dec-21 18:01:52

My DH is about to undergo this treatment, having been diagnosed in late September. Where a cure is not possible, the aim is to shrink and control the disease and improve both quality of life and survival time. About all I can tell you really. I’m sure you will be in very good hands going forward. Xx

Greyduster Sun 05-Dec-21 18:02:44

Not sure what happened there - it all disappeared and then you get two for the price of one!

Peasblossom Sun 05-Dec-21 18:09:20

Medically, palliative medicine is anything given to control or relieve symptoms of an illness that cannot be cured.
Many long term diseases involve the use of palliative care to make a normal life possible.

Because it can be part of end-of-life care the two have become used interchangeably in common usage (a bit like a hoover is used to mean vacuum cleaner).

It can be alarming to see it in a letter when you’ve heard the term used in that way, but it was a letter from one medical practitioner to another so it will have been used medically. You are perhaps experiencing symptoms that the consultant thinks will respond well to a particular medication?

MissAdventure Sun 05-Dec-21 18:22:34

Are you ok, mrsmopp?
These things are vile when they're written out, I know.

mrsmopp Sun 05-Dec-21 23:19:08

Well it’s a bit scary when the expression ‘end of life’ is used and I’m wondering if I can keep going for a few more years. I’m 77 and otherwise fit and healthy - I take long walks and am not in pain except for recurring vulva cancer which won’t just go away and leave me alone. Maybe palliative chemo will work for me. Fingers crossed!

MissAdventure Sun 05-Dec-21 23:23:53

I shall certainly be keeping everything crossed for you, mrsmopp, and who knows?
Great strides are being made all the time in treatments.

Some people can go years on palliative care.
Up to 20, so I've heard from doctors. thanks

Whiff Mon 06-Dec-21 08:13:21

mrsmopp I can only speak from personal experience. May not apply to you . Don't want to scare you .

My husband was diagnosed with Grade 4 malignant melanoma in January 2001 and was told he wouldn't live 5 years. It was like living with the sword of Damocles hanging over us. Then it dropped October 2003 3 tumour's in his right lung , 1 in his chest and 2 in his brain by the optical nerve. He was give 4months to 2 years. Because he was terminal he was given pallative chemo every 3 weeks . Looking back I wish he hadn't had it as it did nothing to increase his life span. He wanted to reach his 47th birthday in February 2004 he died 4 days later at home with me and our children.

This is my experience of pallative chemo. Luckily he only suffered 2 side effects from it both which he hated. He lost his sense of taste and became impotent.

Like I said this is my experience.

Peasblossom Mon 06-Dec-21 09:40:46

Oh dear, I may have alarmed you whilst meaning to do the opposite. What I meant to emphasise is that palliative and end of life are not at all the same thing but common use has confused the two.

Just as an example:
A leukaemia drug developed twenty years ago is a palliative medication . The leukaemia cannot be cured. But twenty years later I still exchange Christmas cards with someone I met on the leukaemia ward who is taking this medication. If she stopped it would be a different story.

I hope I’ve put it a bit better this time.

Luckygirl3 Mon 06-Dec-21 09:51:53

It must feel a shock to see that in a letter mrsmopp - a friend of mine had 10 years on this, and it was very effective in keeping the tumour at bay.

It is a bit like putting weedkiller on brambles and nettles to temporarily stop them in their tracks, knowing full well they will be back! But then you are back with your weedkiller.

Dickens Mon 06-Dec-21 09:54:21

*mrsmopp"

A "palliative" course of treatment - be it chemotherapy or any other type - is simply a way to relieve symptoms of a disease without dealing with the cause.

As someone else said, it has now become synonymous with 'end of life' care - because the same treatment is used. It can, in some circumstances, also involve surgery.

If it's any comfort to you - I'm also on palliative care, for a condition that cannot be cured (intestinal failure) but which can be managed. During my course of treatments, I've also met others in the same boat (but for different reasons) who have been 'manged' for years and years.

Don't get yourself into a state of depression over this - it's a medical term. They are treating you by managing your condition. They are going to control the symptoms to give you a better quality of life.

Casdon Mon 06-Dec-21 09:54:56

The good news mrsmopp is that palliative care has moved on a long way since Whiff sadly lost her husband in 2004. It depends on the type of cancer and your personal case, but many people do live with terminal cancers for a number of years, with chemotherapy keeping it stable. I would talk to your oncology nurses and consultant, and seek more information about what exactly it means for you.

Dickens Mon 06-Dec-21 14:38:17

Casdon

The good news mrsmopp is that palliative care has moved on a long way since Whiff sadly lost her husband in 2004. It depends on the type of cancer and your personal case, but many people do live with terminal cancers for a number of years, with chemotherapy keeping it stable. I would talk to your oncology nurses and consultant, and seek more information about what exactly it means for you.

but many people do live with terminal cancers for a number of years, with chemotherapy keeping it stable

Very true. I've met more than a couple of people who've been on palliative chemo - most were in our age group - who've been stable for years. One chap was chugging along after nearly 11 years.

An oncologist told me that sometimes cancer grows more slowly in older people because of the slower rate of cell growth with some types of cancers. An elderly lady up the road from me - with lung cancer - found out that hers had literally stopped growing... oncology couldn't explain why and I don't think they knew.

SusieB50 Mon 06-Dec-21 15:07:02

I think you should makes appointment with your Oncology nurse and take someone with you if possible to make notes or ask questions you may forget .Things have moved on greatly since Whiff’s husband was having treatment . 💐

mrsmopp Mon 06-Dec-21 17:07:33

Thanks for all being so reassuring. Seeing the words ‘end of life’ was a shock taken out of context, but now I know it’s not meant to be taken so literally. We are all facing ‘end of life’ at some point, but please, not just yet! I’m reassured to to find I can go on for a few more years with a bit of luck. Whew!!

MissAdventure Mon 06-Dec-21 17:09:36

It's a horrible phrase.
I don't know why they don't change it to something a bit more user friendly.

Grannmarie Mon 06-Dec-21 17:28:50

Thinking of you, MrsMopp, wishing you well, hoping and praying that this treatment will give you many more years to enjoy. 💕🙏💕

Aldom Mon 06-Dec-21 17:30:27

mrsmopp I hope you will be encouraged when I tell you that a member of my family had a similar condition to yourself. She enjoyed a good many years of quality life thanks to palliative chemotherapy.
Wishing the same for you. flowers

mrsmopp Mon 06-Dec-21 21:44:06

Thanks to all for your support and encouragement.
I do feel more positive now and determined to make the most of the time we have left. You have really helped me and I appreciate it. xxx

hulahoop Mon 06-Dec-21 22:38:07

Can't add anything else hope you are feeling more positive 💐