He had his colon removed in 2005 and hoped that would end the cancer, but now it’s returned in his abdomen and metastasized into his liver. Liver cancer is a usually fatal disease. Google news- it’s the most frequently repeated story on CNN today as well.
There are very few people I’d wish a painful debilitating disease on and as much as I loathe his politics and his boss Tony Snow is certainly certainly not one of them. For what it’s worth (approximately nothing) I hope for his sake and his family’s that he pulls through.
My terror now: new White House Press Secretary Ann Coulter to the rescue.
PS- I’m curious if The Daily Show says anything about this since footage of him is frequently used (and completely understandably and rightly) as the butt of jokes (especially his parroting of White House catchphrases and talking points in the face of all logic). Sometimes you would get the opinion watching him that he was thinking to himself “God I hate having to tow the line on this one when everyone knows it’s a truckload of bullshit”, but then that’s pretty much every White House Press Secretary at some point.
[Actual question, I’m not being sarcastic]- If there is cancer in an organ it does not count as that type of cancer if it did not start there? For example, if cancer in the lungs metastasizes into the stomach, then the person has metastatic lung cancer trather than stomach cancer?
If you really want to get into the nitty gritty we should drag a dcotor in here. But generally speaking, when you talk about what type of cancer a person has you refer to it by its site of origin. So metastatic lung cancer would mean a cancer that has spread from the lungs, not to the lungs. The classification schemes that are used to design prognoses and treatment protocols are based on that, so, e.g. Elizabeth Edwards was diagnosed as “Stage IV Breast Cancer” when it spread to her rib, and not bone cancer. I’m not saying that the terminology doesn’t occasionally get complicated, fudged o confused – or that no doctor would every say she has bone cancer or tony snow liver cancer. But as a general rule when you hear something like “liver cancer has a bad prognosis” this almost invariably means primary liver cancer.
Here’s the CNN story.
It sounds like his outlook is really bad. He’s got family history working against him, too. I couldn’t say very much I like about the guy, but he was classy in his remarks about Elizabeth Edwards last week. I wish them both well.
Sorry about your mother, Sampiro. I remember things were bad months ago, but I didn’t know she was gone.
I’m not a doctor, but I am a medical student.
Once cancer has started to spread, the best way to refer to it is as “Stage IV” cancer of (whatever organ it originated in). The origin is the most important consideration, because the cancer cells behave differently (and respond differently to chemotherapy) depending on what organ they first grew from.
I think simply referring to it as “Stage IV” is preferable than trying to describe the sites of metastasis, because you can assume that once you see evidence of tumors in distant organs that cancer cells have entered the person’s blood and lymph fluid and are being dispersed throughout the entire body, even if they aren’t yet forming tumors large enough to be detectable in more than one or two places. That’s why it is so hard to cure cancer once it’s stage IV - you’d have to eradicate every little cancer cell that’s hiding out throughout the body, and so far we don’t know how to do that without destroying the person’s healthy cells too.
Unfortunately, stage IV cancer generally has a very poor prognosis regardless of where it originated and the odds are that Tony Snow and Elizabeth Edwards will die within the next few years. Hopefully with chemotherapy they can enjoy some good quality time with their loved ones before that happens.
In both cases, I consider it very sad news regardless of the person’s political stances. I would expect that once you are facing the knowledge that you are terminally ill, you probably don’t care quite so much about partisan politics.
A bit a hijack, here - I have the impression that pancreatic cancers are usually considered one of the more deadly ones that people can contract. Is that because of the importance of the pancreas, or is that because pancreatic cancers are not usually detected until they’ve reached Stage IV?
Either way, I am hoping good things come to both Mr. Snow and Mrs. Edwards.
[hijack]I believe the president is treated at Bethesda Naval Hospital, but where are senior members of the administration such as Tony Snow treated? Does he also go to Bethesda, or does he visit civilian hospitals, presumably under his government-provided medical insurance?[/hijack]
That aside, I’m sorry for both him and Elizabeth Edwards. This sort of thing is hard enough to have to deal with, let alone having to do so in the light of the public attention.
Yes, pancreatic cancer is notorious for being rapidly fatal, even compared to other terminal cancers.
The reason I was given by the oncologist who lectured to my class about it is that, because of how the anatomy of the area where the pancreas is, a tumor in the middle or “tail” portions of the pancreas can grow silently for a long time before it starts to bump into anything that will be irritated by the tumor’s presence and cause symptoms, so by the time the person realizes something’s wrong and gets diagnosed, pancreatic cancer is almost always very advanced.
For those “lucky” (relatively speaking) few who are diagnosed while the cancer is still confined to the pancreas, there is a chance that surgery can cure them. It is possible to survive without a pancreas.
Another part of why pancreatic cancer kills so rapidly is because chemotherapy and radiation generally don’t work well on it. With many other kinds of cancer, even after it’s widespread, chemo can frequently at least slow the cancer down for a while and buy the patient some time. In the case of pancreatic cancer, it’s difficult to even slow it down. Hopefully some experimental treatment will change that situation soon.