Hello, my name is Carm and I am an oncology nurse. What makes a malignancy a stage 4 is when a cancer is found in a non regional area. If the lymph node that cobtained these cancer cells was one that is not regional to the colon but further from that neighborhood, then it is a stage 4 even if it is only one cell in one lymph node. A distant metastasis makes it non regional. There are many here who have the same diagnosis like Peroll who can give you better insight. If you have any questions for me I am always around. Best of luck, Carm RN.
Colorectal (Colon) Cancer Questions
seek a second opinion?
Asked by ashleydv on Thursday, March 14, 2013
seek a second opinion?
My dad was just diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. However I have been doing research and I'm confused because the dr said it has not spread to the organs but it has to the lymph nodes. I thought that was stage 3? Also, he won't give us much of a prognosis. I'm scared because. 22 and don't want my dad to die :(
8 Answers from the Community
Yes, if you're interested not satisfied with the answers
the doctor is giving you. Its great that you're doing research. Always be prepared for the doctor and keep asking questions. When I was told I needed a permanent colostomy I told my doctor I didn't need a second opinion, I just wanted more information. I wrote down two pages of questions and she answered every one of them. It's important you trust your doctor.
First of all, you cannot seek a second opinion, only your dad can, unless you have a medical power of attorney for him. Stage IV cancer indicates it has spread to a location remote form the primary location. That could be soft tissue, bone, muscle, distant lymph nodes, etc., rather than an organ. When you say he won't give you much of a prognosis, do you mean the prognosis is not good or that he won't give you a prognosis at all? The problem with giving a prognosis is that it is more akin to a WAG (wild XXX guess) than reliable medical science since they are based on old data about other people that have had cancer and have nothing to do with your dad.
I am sorry about your dad. Please remember that there are many Stage IV cancer survivors! Take a slow deep breath and do it several times a day to calm yourself. Of course you are worried about your dad, but he needs you to be calm and as positive as possible, so it is important that you take good care of yourself too! If your dad wants a second opinion, it can't hurt. I suggest you write a list of questions down and go with your father to meet with his oncologist. My oncologist told me to stay off the internment because I was giving myself anxiety believing some nonsense. Cancer is not an automatic death sentence these days. For today, your dad is here, so enjoy him. You sound like a loving daughter and I know your strength will really help him on this journey. Good luck to you both!
Personally, I think second opinions are ALWAYS a good thing. Of course you don't want your dad to die. Never Give Up. Make sure you try to go for a second opinion at a different facility and see someone who specializes in colon cancer. AND provide all the test results, copies of films [xrays] or scans and so forth. We hand carried ours to the second dr. Speeds up the process.
Ashley, Staging of cancer is an odd and confusing thing. Carm explains it well so I don't have to cover that. I can give you some information on prognosis and what may happen to him. Part of the reason the Dr may not wat to give much on prtognosis is that it is noramlly assumed that if the cancer has spread beyond locally that it is in places they can't yet see. This may or may not be true but in either case it is not a death scentance and it can easily be treated. You also need to know that any data on prognisis is at least 5 years old and lots of good things have happened in the past 5 years. I pwersonally have had tree drugs and two surgeries that were not available when I was first diagnosed so thihngs change fast.
If he was onlot diaghnosed only 14 days ago I assume that he has not had surgery yet but has had CT and PET scans and that is how the suspecious lymph node out of the region was found. You should also know that CT scans only see differences in tissue density and PET scans only see metabilic activity and that there are things that are not cancer that can look like cancer on these scans so if it is possible then a biopsy of the suspected lymph node is probably a good idea to be sure it is cancer.
If it is only in one lymph node at one location then they may want to remove it along with the primary cancer in the colon. In any case he lis likely to get chemo to go after any cancer that may not yet be detectable but may have snuck out of the other locations. Chemo isn't any fun but is it easliy survivable and there are lots of chemo options for colon cancer so if one does not work another will.
Overall there is no reason that he should not live a long and comfortable life. It also soujnds to me like you and your dad need to learn a little more about what questions to ask the Drs and how to get them to provide answers you need. This is something that all cancer patients and thier families have to learn, I know I am still learning about cancer and I have been at it for quite some time. You should start by getting a complete description of the cancer, where it has been located, how it was discovered and how the Dr plan to treat it. If you do decide to get a sceond opinion you may want to get one from a Dr associated with a research hospital or clinic as they will know more about and have better access to the latest treatments.
If you have any more questions that I can help with just let me know. Good Luck
It doesn't ever hurt to get a second opinion but you need to talk this over with your Dad and let him decide what to do. Should he decide to seek a second opinion, find someone with excellent credentials in the particular cancer affecting your Dad and do not ask the current doctor to recommend someone. To be valid, a second opinion must be completely independent of the initial opinion. Do a little more research and see if the staging from 3 to 4 makes much of a difference in terms of treatment.
Best wishes for you to no longer have a reason to be afraid.
I don't know much about colon cancer, but wanted to wish you well and pass you links to information describing staging of colon cancer.
If he got copies of the radiology and pathology reports, it should describe what they saw, as far as why they staged it that way. After a biopsy, the pathologist makes this report for the doctor. After a scan, the radiologist makes the report for the doctor. This information tells them what's going on in there as best as they can tell.
My heart goes out to you, and I wish you and your dad the best. That must have been a real shock to you both. Take one day at a time, and grab onto every moment.