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Survivor, or Cured??

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  • Survivor, or Cured??

    I have a question that may sound a little stupid, but really would like some clarification. What constitutes a CURE? I was told by my oncologist that I was cured after I completed my Chemo, and blood markers, and CT all came back normal. I have often heard that you cant be considered CURED, but rather remision until 5 years of being cancer free. Just wondering.
    Diagnosed 7/5/05, Rt. I/O 7/29/05, Nonseminoma Stage IIa, Started 3XBEP 9/06/05 changed to 4XEP due to reaction from Bleomycin. Currently surveillance.

  • #2
    It's my understanding that remission begins when no live cancer can be detected. You are considered cured when you complete a successful remission and in the case of tc that's two years.
    Son Jason diagnosed 4/30/04, stage III. Right I/O 4/30/04. Graduated College 5/13/04. 4XEP 6/7/04 - 8/13/04. Full open RPLND 10/13/04. All Clear since.

    Treated by Dr. Rakowski of Midland Park, NJ. Visited Sloan Kettering for protocol advice. RPLND done at Sloan Kettering.


    • #3
      That is a good question. A lot of people probably use the word "cured" differently. And the answer is probably different for different types of TC and how you were treated.

      My urologist told me that for my seminoma after RT, a reoccurence is most likely in the first 2 years, after that the likelihood drops off with time. But he strongly cautioned me that there is no magic "5 years" for considering yourself cured with seminoma - that even after successful RT, seminoma can somehow hang around in your body, and suddenly reoccur many years later. Yes, less likely with each passing year, but there is a reason for the yearly follow-ups for life.

      At my first follow-up, my oncologist told me that he felt that I was "probably cured". Great news, but then I asked what "probably cured" meant. He answered that "the chances of a reoccurence were very low after my RT treatment". I then asked him specifically when I could consider myself absolutely cured and he told me that he could never say that, but that "with time our confidence will increase and that maybe in about 10 years" he would feel comfortable using the word cured. But until that time, he reminded me, we will have frequent follow-ups and in the off-chance the seminoma does come back, it can be treated - so a long-term cure is expected either way.

      So, at least for seminoma, there is no magic "time in remission" that can be considered a cure - but probably after 10 years the odds of anything coming back are so low that it is time to think of yourself as cured. But for me personally, I don't want to wait for 10 years. I am hoping that after a few more "all-clear" follow-ups, I will start feeling like I am cured - and can learn to not worry about the what-ifs - well at least until it is time for my next follow-up visit.
      Right I/O 4/17/06, Seminoma Stage Ib
      RT (15 days) completed 6/1/06
      All clear as of 5/8/09


      • #4
        You're certainly a survivor, from the moment of diagnosis for as long as you live. I think it's perfectly fine to consider yourself cured, as long as you keep on getting checked.
        right inguinal orchiectomy 6/5/2003 > nonseminoma, stage I > surveillance > L-RPLND 6/24/2005 for recurrence, suspected teratoma but found seminoma, stage II > chylous ascites until 9/2005 > surveillance and "all clear" since

        Your donation funds Livestrong services for people facing cancer now. Please sponsor my ride!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Scott
          You're certainly a survivor, from the moment of diagnosis for as long as you live. I think it's perfectly fine to consider yourself cured, as long as you keep on getting checked.
          Amen to that. Who cares about semantics? A lot of it is reflected in your mental attitude. A woman I know who was going through breast cancer at the same time I went through TC is in remission, just the same as me, but doesn't seem to be able to consider herself "cancer-free" because of the POSSIBILITY that she might have a recurrence. As far as I'm concerned, right now I'm just as cancer-free as anybody else out there until something tells me otherwise.

          BTW, my preferred label is "normal" (as normal as I can be anyway).
          Vinny (aka Frank)

          left I/O 1/5/05; 95%EC / 5% mature teratoma; stage IIIC
          4x BEP 1/24/05 - 4/11/05; RPLND (left side) 5/31/05
          VATS resection of teratoma from left lung 4/26/06
          Presently surveilling


          • #6
            Well said Vinny!
            Mother of TC survivor.
            Son, Josh 20, diagnosed Jan. 24, 2005. Left Orchiechtomy Jan.31, 2005. 4XBPE March 7th to May 28th 2005.