At week 68 of treatment, we got the call that my husband's AFP had risen to 128: the nurse was very concerned.
Well, he had his CT-Scan Tuesday, and the doc says, at least for now, he's in the clear :) ... no clearly defined liver tumor. It was a tremendous relief, but the lead doc in the clinic came in and said that he was very concerned about future recurrence of hcc in my husband.
The difficulty is that there are 'arterially enhancing lesions' that show 'mild interval change' -- stable for the most part, but a couple of them are showing larger measurements; however, the radiologist is attributing the differences to possible variations in 'timing and contrast.' (Gee, they're done at the same place every 3 months, can't they be consistent?) They might decide to draw AFP in the next month or two, but the doc wasn't too keen on doing any other tumor markers... an AASLD protocol kind of guy, I guess.
But, no bad news is good news, so all in all, it's still quite a miracle. As of next week, my husband will be 3-years post-hepatectomy, 3-years cancer-free. We asked the doc about any possible benefits for extending beyond 72 weeks, and again, an AASLD guideline answer: no clear evidence as to any benefit extending beyond 72 weeks. He did add, however, it was possible that extending might have benefits for my husband, but with no clear proof, he does not feel he could recommend it. Bottom line, he left it up to my husband to decide, and stated that he would work with us whatever the decision. (Well, that means it's research time for the next week and a half! Btw, anyone with recent data related to tx-suppression of hcc, please share, I'd be most appreciative.)
The other remarkable thing is that in the last 3 years, despite not having a left lobe (they hoped it might regenerate some after surgery, but it did not), my husband's cirrhosis appears to remain stable: no additional ascites, no organ enlargement (spleen, pancreas, etc.), no edema or other signs of decompensation. It's hard to decide whether treatment played any role in keeping both decompensation and hcc at bay, so it makes us just a little nervous about stopping at the end of week 72... still on the fence (and running out of fence soon).
Just had to update anyone interested, release a little pressure, and thank you for reading/caring.
Part of me wanted to title this post "Interferon and Ribavirin Treatment after Anatomical Resection in a Cirrhotic Patient: A Single Case Study" ;) -- but I decided the current title might be more help to anyone just diagnosed with any of the three (hcv, cirrhosis, or hcc) understand that NONE of those is a death sentence.