I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma twenty-five years ago. At the time of diagnosis, I was an extremely healthy twenty-one year old woman with no family history of cancer. My left kidney was removed, and because the cancer had spread to seven lymph nodes, I received radiation treatment. For the next twenty-three years I was extremely healthy until I was diagnosed with colon cancer (transverse) one and a half years ago.
I then had that section of my colon removed. (Interestingly enough, they found two renal cell cancer cells embedded in the section of the colon they removed.) Following the colon surgery I received chemotherapy, 5FU & Leucovorin. My chemo ended in September 2002. During the past six months I have been diagnosed with bilateral radiculopathy, specifically L5 nerve root damage. No pain or back problems at all, and no sensory impairment. Only motor impairment with the major symptom being left leg foot drop.
My oncologist and neurologist are wonderful, and the only explanation that they can come up with is that the nerve root damage may have been caused by the combination of radiation (25 years ago) and chemo (1 1/2 years ago). They have also never seen anyone with my medical history, (the picture of health except for two cancers, especially the renal cell carcinoma at 21) so they are guessing. Have any of you ever come across a similar situation? Any suggestions on what my next steps should be?
Thank you so much for your patience with my very long message. Any guidance you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
It is indeed a very unusual situation. I assume your neurologist and oncologist have done a MRI of the spine to make sure that there is no spread of the cancer to the spine. If there was no cancer in the spine, then it is plausible that the radiculopathy was due to recall from chemotherapy and prior radiation to the back where you had originally nephrectomy and lymph node dissection. Physical therapy which I am sure you are receiving may be the only treatment now for the foot drop although an expert in neurology may find other remedies. Right now I would not recommend any therapy for the renal cell cancer found in the resected colon but it is very important to follow closely with CT scans of the chest abdomen and pelvis every 6 months for any sign of recurrence.