Topic: Interested in others experience stopping and restarting chemo

I am one of the lucky ones.  So far I've gotten a long straw.  For those not familiar with my varied and dispersed posts a quick recap.
Diagnosed August 2003 followed quickly by successful surgery for my Klatskins tumor.  Clean margins.
No chemo nor radiation.  I focused on diet, lifestyle, chinese medicine and a lot of research.
In my third year I got diagnosis of matastsis.  Not a solid tumor but more a moss covering my abdomen.  I moved slowly but eventually started a course of Xeloda in combination with Lentinan which is a Japanese mushroom extract shown in Japanese studies to enhance longevity and quality of life when used in conjunction with chemo in some patients.

That was Feb '07.  My markers are all now back within the normal range and a CAT yesterday did not show any tumors although the imaging tools never have with me.  I had ascities which is gone. 

I have been off the Xeloda since Sept (I needed to stop for a hernia surgery)  but continued with diet, lentinan etc.  My labs have continued to improve each time since then.

My oncologist recommends going back on the Xeloda although he does go so far as to say "Whatever you are doing is working and it's your decision."   His reasoning is that the cancer cells develop resistance to Chemo when we start and stop treatment. 

However I have other doctors who argue that frequent starting and stopping chemo does cause the cancer to learn resistance but an extended break does not show that same result. 

My current decision is to stay off Xeloda and watch my markers carefully.  If they turn up again, I put much more stake in direction of change then raw numbers, I will reconsider.  At the moment the beast seems to be in the cage for me.

Does any one have any similar experience with stopping Chemo for an extended period?  If so how long did the respite last and what results did you see when restarting.

I know many have moved from one chemo to another when the first has stopped working.

-Peter

Re: Interested in others experience stopping and restarting chemo

Hi Peter,

I took a chemo break earlier this year.  I wasn't showing any activity on a PET scan and had no changes on an MRI -- that's what prompted taking a break.  After a 2 month interval, I had some pains in the liver area and an MRI show some increases.  Three and one-half months after , I had a SIR-sphere treatment. I finally started back on the same chemo (Gemcitabine and Carboplatin) four months after the initial break.  It's now been three and one-half months since I restarted chemo, and it's been holding the tumors to the same size.

One of my worries was that the cancer would become resistant.  But at the same time, our bodies need a break.

G

Re: Interested in others experience stopping and restarting chemo

G,
Thanks for your reply. 
Do you also follow any tumor markers?  CA19-9, 125,  or even CEA?
If  so I'm curious if they also signaled a change and if they have stabilized after going back on the chemo.
-Peter

Re: Interested in others experience stopping and restarting chemo

Peter,

Yes, I follow CA19-9.  They were in the normal range before I took my break.  During the break - after I felt that things are starting up again, they were around 100-150.  Now they are around 50.   I think that their direction is a indicator for me.  With the scans,  it's hard to be sure about changes as they are subject to interpretation by different radiologist with different levels of experience.

G