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Treating a patient with Merkel Cell Cancer - Online Doctor Chats

Date : 21-Feb-2012
User rating for this question
Very Good Posted in: Cancer
Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 3631 Questions
User :   My mother who is 92 years old was diagnosed with merkel cell cancer. She is in a nursing home and the tumor is on her arm. By the time it was diagnosed and she received treatment the tumor was the size of an orange. She received radiation only which eliminated the tumor but the cancer has spread. The only thing offered now is chemotherapy which she refused. Is there anything being done with antivirals as I understand there may be a virus (polyomavirus) associated with merkel cell. Thank You.
Doctor :   Hi
Doctor :   Please Let me go through your query.
User :   I am interested to know if there are any antivirals that can be used to treat merkel cell.
Doctor :   No studies have been done to test these approaches and is difficult to gauze the efficacy of anti virals in Merkel caell carcinoma.
User :   Do you have any suggestion as to how we should proceed.
Doctor :   Even chemotherapy has not helped much as the statistics say in MCC once the metastasis has spread to the lymph glands.
User :   Thank You.
Doctor :   Has a surgery been done for the tumor.
Doctor :   Or is it only Radiation therapy ?
User :   Only radiation.
Doctor :   If a surgery is performed,
If there's evidence that the cancer has spread to lymph nodes in the area of the skin tumor, those lymph nodes are removed (lymph node dissection).
Doctor :   Ok.
Doctor :   Let me give you a few suggestions : Doctor :   1. As your mother is 92 yrs old, Her decision not to take chemotherapy might be a good one, not to worry, considering the success rate and side effects of the regimen.
Doctor :   2. Please give her nutritional supplements and vitamin,protein,mineral supplements which build up her immune activity.
Doctor :   3. Please do try Alternative medicine therapies like Naturopathy - Like Wheat grass, etc. though we do not know the success rate of it.
Doctor :   4. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies which increase the immune status.
Doctor :   Hope you have followed.
User :   Unfortunately the lymph node was involved and radiation was done to the lymph node. After radiation therapy the cancer appeared further down her arm. Radiation was done to that area as well. Her arm is now very swollen and she is in pain. The pet scan showed the cancer has spread to the chest area and other parts of her body.
Doctor :   Oh, I am really sorry about that.
Doctor :   What had the Oncologist suggested, I suppose surgical ressection could be helpful.
User :   We are going to try some of the natural therapies as you suggested.
Doctor :   Along with a Repeat in Radiation therapy.
Doctor :   I have seen some cases where Wheat grass has increased the 5 yr survival rates of Malignancy patients.
Doctor :   Wheat grass juices twice daily and Most important , Palliative and Emotional help for Pain relief would be more helpful
User :   They can't do any more radiation and the oncologist isn't pushing for chemotherapy since as you mentioned it isn't very sucessful for merkel cell.
Doctor :   But I strongly encourage you to consult your primary physician and oncologist before starting any new treatment regimen and to notify your pharmacist of any supplements you are taking.
Doctor :   Yes he is absolutely right, Please try with what i Have suggested.
Doctor :   Hope she does weel and is relieved of her pain
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