Hi Andrew sorry to hear your cancer has returned. My husband was diagnosed last year with cancer of the left tonsil which had spread to one lymph node. (Also P16 pos) The left tonsil was removed and whilst all surrounding biopsies were clear, he received radiotherapy x 30 and 2 x chemotherapy. He is now a year after finish of treatment and so far so good. I hope for you too that the radio/chemotherapy will see off your cancer. As I’m sure you know the P16 Positive cancers has a better prognosis than other head and neck cancers. Let us know how you get on and all the best for a positive outcome.
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" ( it took 6 weeks to grow to over 4cm big ) . " I wouldn't take that as a hard and fast fact - the cancer could have been bubbling away for a while before it started to become large enough or cause noticable side effects like lymph node swelling. To assume 6 weeks ago he was cancer free, and now he has a large mouth tumour ... it may not be sound. I'm not saying you're wrong, just saying that the medical team is a lot more experienced with the trajectory of head and neck cancers than we are, and if you've explained your concern to them and they've said not to worry .. you need to consider the possibility that the issue here is managing anxiety, rather than making improvements on a treatment plan. My delay between diagnosis and treatment was 6 weeks - and I was told I have about 6 months to live without successful treatment. The logic is simple: huh ? 6 months to live ... that's 24 weeks, are you telling me I have to waste 1/4 of my allotted lifespan waiting for treatment ??? Extrapolating, surely that means in the 6 weeks my cancer will grow significantly, and maybe spread / metastasize. The fact is, there's preparation that needs to be done, and these cancers grow on a pretty known trajectory. My cancer was later stage than your dad's, and I'm still here. I'm not telling you what to do or think, just trying to add context. As I understand it, chemoradiation will either work or it won't. 4-6 weeks between diagnosis and treatment is very normal, and head & neck cancers don't suddenly kill you like blood cancers, breast cancers and certain other types can .. in that regard they're more like bowel cancers .. the kind that just sorta creep up on you. Only issue is placement and size - if that causes issues like obstructing airways .. otherwise if your doctors are comfortable with a wait before the chemoradiation starts, I'd be comfortable too, and I'd use that time to enjoy the remaining meals I can enjoy (he will lose his sense of taste), and spend a lot of time with my family (the daily hospital visits will turn him into a zombie). Personally, I wouldn't be worried. I'd articulate the concern to the doctors and heed their response, and outside of that, just manage my distress and try and build some hope and momentum, as the treatment phase will get pretty yucky.
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Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.