Can my cancer still be treated if it spreads?


Particularly in a place like Roswell Park, where we're treating some advanced stage patients, there are a lot of treatment options available here that may not be available elsewhere. For example, we talked about colon cancer and how it can spread to the liver. We're very aggressive in terms of dealing with disease that has spread to the liver, to the lung, etc. But we're also very aggressive in disease that has spread to the peritoneum, and that's the lining of the abdomen. For example, 10, 20 years ago, when you had peritoneal spread — in other words, carcinomatosis — from colon cancer, it was deemed uniformly fatal. We have found that in select patients, who have limited disease, an aggressive surgical approach where we're able to give chemotherapy directly to the abdomen may actually offer some good benefit. To the point where, if you can remove all the disease you can see and then treat with chemotherapy to clean up any other residual disease, we know that one out of three of those patients can be cured long term. And that's quite an improvement over being an almost uniformly fatal disease.

Joseph Skitzki, MD, FACS