Kate and I went to Washington University Physicans (Barnes-Siteman Cancer Center) for a visit with Dr. Linette, an oncologist with a specialty in brain tumors. He had a great disposition and was much more knowledgable of brain tumors (thankfully!). He went through the latest pathology report with us, nothing has changed, Kate still has the anaplastic Oligoastrocytoma with unfavorable genetic markers. He explained that this cancer is not curable, only treatable to slow the growth of the cancer. The median life expectancy is 4 years with treatment, 1 year without. As you can imagine, this was difficult to hear.
Median life expectancy means that 50% of patients with this cancer live more than 4 years and 50% live less than 4 years.
He said that only 18,000 people develop primary brain tumors in the U.S. annually. From my own research, less than 3% of these are the type of cancer that Kate has.
Dr. Linette recommended a treatment strategy of radiation therapy and simultaneous chemotherapy (Temodar). Temodar can cross the blood-brain barrier and helps make the cancer cells more receptive to radiation. Radiation therapy will occur daily at Barnes for 6 weeks, Monday-Friday. Temodar will last 1 year with varying dose schedules. We need to start treatment within the next 2 weeks (no more than 1 month from the date of surgery).
We asked if we should consider visiting a more specialized cancer treatment center in the country, like MD Anderson in Houston. He said that would be a good idea, at least for peace of mind, and to see what they had to offer in the way of clinical trials. He gave us referrals to a couple of their neuro-oncologists. We have contacted MD Anderson and expect to visit them within the next couple of weeks.
While all of this is hard to process, we are looking forward to a nice evening of good food, hayrides and a bonfire with extended family.
Please pray for us, especially Kate with the emotions she is going through during this difficult time. She loves her boys!