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Colon cancer spread to liver - now jaundice

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My mother in law was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer in February 2009. At that time it had already spread to her liver. Since then she's gone through multiple rounds of chemo, but nothing is working. It's to the point now where her doctors have told her there is nothing more they can do - the cancer is still growing. When speaking with her last night she mentioned she now has jaundice and is getting blisters on her legs. From everything I've read this is not a good sign.

I'm not sure what my question is exactly, but I'm looking for any help or advice as to what we should do. She lives 400 miles from us so I'm not sure if we're supposed to drop everything and head home or if we have some time. She lives alone with her 11 year old grandson (our nephew) and I'm scared of her safety and ability to care for him as well as herself. I've heard we shouldn't expect her to live much past 2 weeks. Does this sound accurate?
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replied October 14th, 2010
Unfortunately, doctors (and everyone else, for that matter) are notoriously inaccurate in predicting how long patients with terminal illnesses will survive. None of us has a crystal ball, and every individual is unique, even if they have the same stage and same cancer.

The above being said, it does appear that your mother-in-law has very advanced metastatic cancer, and that either her bile ducts are obstructed by cancer or her liver is starting to fail. Both of these events would be signs that the terminal phase of her metastatic cancer has very likely begun. Perhaps it is time, now, for her to consider hospice and palliative care options.

I wish that I could be of more help to you and your family.


Robert A. Wascher, MD, FACS

A landmark, evidence-based guide to a healthy cancer-prevention lifestyle, based on cutting-edge cancer research.
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