Radiation is typically a six week course with a chemotherapy drug given. The old drug was 5FU, but it has been developed into a pill form which is Xeloda. Google the word and you can learn more about Xeloda on the Internet. I have not heard about starting Gemzar before radiation. You can link to the pancreatic cancer board and ask if anyone there who had a similar series of treatment. The link is at the top of this site when you enter.
My father had been given Gemzar and Xeloda together long after radiation and 5FU. Also check out your Dad's oncologist's name online. Learn about them. An oncologist experienced in treating pancreatic and/or bile duct/gallbladder cancers may be more proactive in treating these cancers. An oncologist who treats all types of cancers in my opinion does not have the time to research all the possibilities available and tend to see the patient as almost a lost cause due to these types of cancers. I felt the doctor didn't care at times since the survival rates are so low. My Dad taught him not to give up so easily on his patients, because he wanted to live and did survive longer than the norm at any level, but we got more than one opinion.
We did have a second consult at a major cancer cancer where the oncologist was specifically treating patients with gastrointestinal (bile/gallbladder, liver, pancreas, stomach) cancers. Many of these cancers have similarities in terms of treatment and medical procedures. Since the cancer center was almost three hours away, we consulted there and the doctor advised our local oncologist of the best protocol to follow. Be sure your local oncologist is willing to carry out the 'specializing' oncologist's suggestions.
Don't tell your first doctor if you are getting a second opinion. Maybe don't tell the second opinion doctor either. We are in a small city and oncologist selection in this area was only three doctors who all worked together. Ours had a bit of a fit when he learned we went for a second opinion, but then again he never had a patient with bile duct cancer survived as long as my Dad did.
Also, call PanCAN toll-free for information at 1-877-272-6226 and ask for a list of doctors who specialize in treating pancreatic cancer in your area if you are not near a major city or cancer center. The booklets of information they provide may be for pancreatic cancer, but this information does apply to bile duct and gallbladder cancer.
Come back and ask questions. This board is a little slow, but use it and if need be go over to the more active pancreatic chat/discussion board and post there. Do have a written list of questions for the doctor and even ask the doctor to write down the name of the medication.
Check your Dad's insurance coverage. My Dad was over 65 at the time with Medicare and private insurance. Xeloda is covered by prescription at selected places. For some strange reason Xeloda was not covered by his insurance at our regular pharmacy. After picking up the first prescription of over $700 we asked the doctor's office later about the cost at the pharmacy. It was a nurse who said a different pharmacy knew how to bill insurance for it and the entire prescription was paid.
I wish you and your family all the best in this journey. Learn what you can,
write down things or tape record doctor visits to understand what was said.
We can forget. Do ask for the written copies of all tests done on your Dad.
Keep it in one folder or binder. This way you can go back and see the report
the doctor may have briefly mentioned and review it again. I looked up words
I didn't know online and asked questions on this site and the Pancreatic
cancer site. These sites can offer a good support system in sharing what
helped in specific situations that may arise. No doctors are on here, but
many know quite a bit from past experience or what worked for their loved
ones or offer suggestions you can ask his doctor. Take care........Mary
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