Is continuing chemo after the tumor is gone normal?

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 21, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My sister was told two weeks ago that her cancer had completely disappeared. She had 12 tumors and they are gone, but they still have her on chemo for another three this normal?

Expert Answers

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

Yes, it is common to continue the course of chemotherapy after the tumors are gone. There is a good chance that they are not exactly gone, but simply are no longer visible because what is left is very very small. As with antibiotics and infection, it is generally important to finish the entire planned course to give the patient the best chance of getting rid of the cancer so that it does not come back. Nothing is guaranteed but continuing the chemotherapy, if the patient is able to tolerate it, is likely to give a more lasting success.

Community Answers

Mary anne answered...

I had a very aggressive lymphoma 2 years ago and my tumor also disappeared after 3 treatments. The original protocol called for 8 treatments of very aggressive chemo. My oncologist was tempted to stop after 6 treatments but consulted with another oncologist who is an expert in this type of lymphoma. She said all 8 treatments must be given to insure against recurrence. Yes, the treatments were rough and I had a long recovery. But I know it was the right thing to do. It wasn't easy, but I made it. Don't give up now!!!

Loving husband answered...

Yes, it must be a normal procedure to continue chemo. I have a friend who has leukemia and although it still is present he has been in remission for awhile but he continues to receive chemo. Even though the tumors have gone, the cancer (no matter how small) may still be present so continued chemo is a safe way to proceed. It may seem that the doctor is being overly cautious but please accept his decision as it may be one of best decisions you ever make. I pray that you are indeed now cancer free and live a long and happy life. My prayers go out to you and God Bless you.

A fellow caregiver answered...

Learning about my Dads cancer and chemotherapy: "The Truth about Cancer" Ty Bollinger author. Video series a nurse told me to watch.