My Grandma Has Gastric Cancer

I just found out that my Grandma has gastric cancer at 86 years old. I am so thankful she has decided against taking Chemo...but her oncologist suggested she take Xeloda.

Has anyone has experience with this? From what I read it's supposed to decrease the size of tumor and help prolong life.  But having read more about it, I don't see how this will work or help.

How long does she have here with us? I want to help her and my family during this time but feel like I need to know the answers to prepare myself. Andrea, USA

Reply To "My Grandma Has Gastric Cancer"

Andrea, your grandma has been offered an oral or tablet form of chemotherapy. Xeloda, also known as Capecitabine is usually quite a well-tolerated form of chemo, but there are issues giving it in stage 4 because the tumor is quite well advanced at this stage and retaining medication maybe an issue. You don’t mention, but I presume she is eating okay having been offered Capecitabine orally?

Xeloda is usually given as combination chemotherapy treatment, but it is sometimes given alone when other forms of therapy are either rejected or not thought to be tolerable. I looked for evidence of using Capecitabine alone. There was a study in 2009 by Zhang et al published in a Chinese journal, (Zhonghua Zhong Liu Za Zhi. 2009 Apr;31(4):312-5) which showed an overall response rate to the drug of 20.6%. The average survival time on the drug was 8 ½ months.

Side effects are similar to other chemotherapy drugs and include nausea, diarrhea, rashes, oral ulceration, neutropenia or low white cell count.

I guess it depends on what her wishes are as to whether she takes the treatment or not. It may prolong her life by shrinking the tumor, but as you can see from the above study, the survival time is quite short. No one can really be sure how long anyone has as its so hard to predict – response to the chemotherapy, complications from the tumor, side effects from drugs, nutrition and infections can all play a role in how long someone has the disease.

I'm sure your grandmother has had good advice from her oncologist and they are best placed to know whether it’s worth taking the treatment. As a doctor myself, I am always happy to discuss any concerns with relatives and I am sure your grandmothers oncologist would be happy to speak to you about this if she consents to this. Peter

Update:

Grandma saw the Oncologist on Thursday and decided to start IV Chemo.  I didn't attend this appointment so I really don't know the details.

Her 1st chemo treatment was Friday (yesterday) and as of last night she was hungry which is a good sign as she hasn't been very hungry lately.

When I talked to her last night she wasn't able to come to the phone because she was feeling tired and nausea.

My sister and father are currently living with my Grandma, which I am thankful for the support they are able to give her.  

She is a fighter and has chosen to fight at this moment. I will be seeing her on Sunday so may have more questions at that time.

I am really scared with her choosing chemo base off of the information I have read, but I am here to support her on this journey. Andrea

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