A common question is what does remission mean? This is a common term used to describe the state of your cancer following treatment.
Its a term that everyone with a malignant tumor wants to hear as it means your treatment has had an impact on your disease.
There are two main types and it is important to understand these:
When your doctor talks about full remission this means that the cancer is no longer detectable on either scanning, biopsy, blood tests or on clinical examination. You should also be free of symptoms too.
It is the best possible news you can receive as you can be thought of as being free of your stomach tumor.
A partial remission means that your malignancy has reduced in size or that there is less evidence of disease spread. This is good news as you are responding to the treatment that you have been given.
You may still have symptoms, although you have probably noticed an improvement yourself.
The tumor is likely to still be detectable either on examination, on scans you have had or there may be markers in your blood to suggest its still present.
Its always a joyous time to hear that your cancer has gone and one to be celebrated. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that your treatment will come to an end, nor does it mean that you can be discharged from your doctors care.
You are likely to need follow up appointments, interval scans to check for for further tumors and for support.
The term "recurrence" means that your cancer has returned after you have been in a period of partial or full remission. This is a term that everyone dreads to hear, but sadly can occur in some people.
The onset may be marked by further symptoms or incidentally picked up on scans or in blood tests.
Your doctor may talk about local recurrence, where the tumor has returned near where the original tumor was. For example, if you have had a distal gastrectomy (where the lower portion of your stomach was removed) there may be recurrence in your stomach remnant.
With local recurrence it is still possible to treat your tumor and a cure is still possible.
The term distant recurrence or spread indicates that your disease has spread from its original site to other parts of your body. When this occurs, your less likely to be cured, but that does not mean that you won't be offered any treatment.
You might be offered radiotherapy or chemotherapy to ease symptoms and to prolong survival in this situation, but it depends on your wishes as well as your doctors opinion as to whether this would be appropriate for you.