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What is the future of a patient with rectal cancer?

Q: My mother is suffering from Rectal Cancer (Adeno carcinoma-Stage 3). She was operated last year to remove the blockage in intestines. As cancer had spread to the whole intestine and bladder, they could not operate her. Instead they have put a colostomy bag for passing motions. Doctors have said that my mother will not survive for more than 3-6 months. There is no treatment available for this and considering my mothers age chemotherapy is likely to create more problems. My mother being a highly orthodox lady, has stopped taking food. She is surviving on fruits and milk only. Instead of becoming weak, my mother has become very strong. Now she is able to do all her work by herself. She is leading a normal life. She does not show any symptoms of illness. My family doctor is surprised at these developments. He is of the opinion that cancer cannot subside or reverse in a span of 7 months. Now my mother has a feeling that doctors have cheated us. She quarrels with me daily telling that I have not consulted good doctors. Kindly tell me what I can do under these circumstances? What exactly might have happened to my mother? What are her chances of survival assuming that she is suffering from cancer? An early reply from you will help a lot in easing my tension.

A:1. I am sure that your doctors confirmed the cancer with biopsy. If you have a doubt, the slides /block of biopsy can be reviewed by another pathologist. 2. Since there is a gap of seven months, a repeat CT scan can be done and compared with previous films to find about the rate of progression of cancer. 3. CANCER is a slow disease and usually the doubling time of colon cancer cells is about 3 months. However, in a given patient, the growth of cancer can be even slow and thus patient can survive for months and years inspite of no treatment. It appears that your patient had gone weak due to intestinal obstruction and after colostomy, the obstruction has been relieved and she is better now.

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