Volume 5 Issue 1 - Dr. Julian Kenyon

Originally published in Issue 1 2006 icon

Julian Kenyon

I was diagnosed last February with lung cancer (I am a non-smoker). Due to this my left lung had completely collapsed and I have bone mets to my spine causing a fracture. I was told that it was an adenocarcinoma; the doctors believed it was a massive tumour inside the left lung but they were unable to see the tumour on a CT scan due to the collapsed lung. I was given 3-9 months to live, and after some radiotherapy to my spine I was sent home. I was then given one course of chemotherapy, eventually after 5 months from the initial diagnosis I was given a broncoscopy, When the results came back they showed that I had no cancer cells inside the lung, and an appointment was made for me to have a PET scan at another hospital.

Meanwhile I sought a second opinion; eventually they said that the tumours were in the pleural cavity, and again that they could not be seen on a CT scan. I was put on a course of Tarceva, for about 6 weeks. Unfortunately I had to stop the medication as I became really ill, unable to eat and eventually I couldn’t even keep my medication down. When I returned in early December to the hospital they told me to stop the medication as they didn’t want to put toxins into my body if they weren’t doing any good. Again I was told that they can’t see my tumours on a new CT scan and that a PET scan is not a good tool for diagnosis as it shows up everything. My concern is that I never had any real symptoms, no breathlessness and the cough that I had was due to an infection that has now been cleared up with antibiotics.

So where do I go from here? It is almost a year now since I was diagnosed and they are still unable to give me any information regarding the size or progression of my illness, in fact they are not sure if it is a primary or secondary. I have had no spreads so far, but I’m not happy with" waiting for a spread and then doing a biopsy", which was one consultant’s solution.

You clearly have a really difficult situation. You have had a vertebral collapse as well as a collapse of the left lung, presumably due to metastatic adenocarcinoma, present in the left lung. However, no definite diagnosis was possible. You were given one course of chemotherapy.

If you had originally a metastatic adenocarcinoma of the lung, then it is unlikely that one course of chemotherapy would have cured it. You were then put on a course of Tarceva, which is a new lung cancer drug. It is known for its side effects, which I have observed in some of our patients. A further CT scan has revealed no evidence of a tumour. Your question is, where do you go from here? You are naturally unhappy with waiting until a recurrence occurs and then doing something about it then.

There is no scanning method that I can think of that would be any better than those you have already had. I am presuming the whole range of tumour markers have been done on you, which is what I would do if I were seeing you.

If I were in your position, I would stimulate cell mediated immunity in as vigorous a way as possible, using an angiogenesis inhibitor, because one presumes that there is still some tumour activity going on somewhere, and decide on a safe course of tumour cell destruction, which should be an approach that does not have a downside of doing harm to the body like Tarceva can do.

So in summary; in your case there is no absolute definitive way of seeing these tumours, but if it was me, like you, I would take some definitive course of action now rather than waiting to see if and when tumours recur.

A friend of mine, aged 82, was diagnosed last year with thyroid cancer She was told they couldn’t operate but that the cancer hadn’t spread. She was treated with an intensive course of radiotherapy. She seemed better for a while but now, seven months later, she is very weak, has no appetite and complains of chest pains. She recently saw the oncologist again, had some more scans and was told the cancer hadn’t come back. Is there any treatment she can have to regain her strength? Also, because she can’t eat a lot of solids, she is having lots of milk, cream, custard etc. which she is convinced is good for her. Is dairy bad for this kind of cancer and should she be warned off it?

Your friend with thyroid cancer has been treated by radiotherapy and has been told that there is no evidence of any recurrence of tumour. I am presuming that thyroid function tests have been carried out, because the most likely cause of this is hypo-thyroidism following radiotherapy.

Milk and dairy products are an absolute no no in any situation involving cancer. This is for several reasons but in her particular case, milk and dairy products contain high levels of insulin growth factor number 1, and growth factors should be avoided in any patient who has had cancer or has a family history of cancer or is predisposed to developing cancer.

I have read the reports about the dangers of mobile phones and have been trying not to use mine too much, but someone told me that cordless landline phones were even more dangerous. Can you explain this? Also I’;ve heard that microwave cookers are dangerous. Is it all right to use them if you stay well out of range?

There is some controversy here. Cordless landline phones are likely to be less of a problem than mobile phones, simply because the frequency range in which they operate is lower than for mobile phones. The relevant part of the electro-magnetic spectrum, which is biologically dangerous, is the millimetre/centimetre wave band which mobile phones use. There is good evidence for biological activity of these particular wavelengths. If you wanted to play safe, minimise the use of the mobile phone and don’t use a cordless landline phone.

You also asked about microwave cookers. It is interesting that the levels for exposure to microwaves in Russia are 10% of those allowed in Europe. The Russian take on this is, as stated earlier, that microwaves are part of the electro-magnetic spectrum which can have biological effects.

Having said that, there is no epidemiological evidence that microwave cookers are dangerous, but I would advise keeping a good 10 feet away from your cooker while it is operating.

Advice from The Cancer Experts - your questions answered
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