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Help me understand

Shiloah29
Posts: 17
Joined: May 2011

Help me understand! They found a tumor in my husband's lung. CT and PET did not show anything else. They removed the lower lobe of his right lung. Found two swollen lymph nodes in his chest. Did chemo for as preventative measure. Four mo. of treatment later, he had three hot spots on his PET. Now they want to do radiation and more chemo. With the surgery and chemo he got so tired and weak. The Pet was 6 wks after his last chemo treatment. How did he come up with new hot spots while on chemo?? Are all hot spots cancer cells? The three spots are places that he told them he had pain and they fluffed it off. Gave him muscle relaxers. They are on the back of his neck, lower deep back muscle and 5th rib. I worry that he is already weak and this will make him weaker. How long will it be before he can hope to feel better?

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

I am sorry that you are having to go through this. It is hard to understand cancer. Even doctors are still at a beginning stage of knowing much about cancer. I would like to think they have a cure, but they are still scrambling around for good treatments. Every year they get better, but ... well, there is a lot of room for improvement.

CAT scans can only show spots 2 mm or bigger in the lungs. Doctors used to think that if they removed a single spot of cancer while it was still small(like less than 1 centimeter)and no other spots were showing, that they could effect a cure. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. There are some researchers today that think that some cancer is aggressive starting from the beginning and that no matter how small it is, it has already begun to send out seed-like cells through the lymph and blood system that set up camp in other parts of the body. This process is called metastisis. A swollen lymph gland infected with cancer cells is an indication that the cancer is aggressive and beginning to spread. Also, some kinds of lung cancer are known to be more aggressive and doctors often follow the surgery up with chemo if they think there is a chance that this will happen. The chemo is designed to kill fast growing cells. If all the cancer "seeds" are killed, the spots in other parts of the body don't happen. But sometimes the chemo's we have do not kill all of the cancer cells and little spots start up and cause problems. When this happens, the doctors do what they can to push the cancer back and make the patient as comfortable as possible. Radiation can kill a spot of cancer that is pushing on a bone or another organ and causing pain. More chemo may kill spots seen and spots still too small to see.

By the way, the strength of the chemo is decided by how well it kills cancer, not by how much pain the patient endures. A different kind of chemo may be more powerful in killing cancer but not as bad on your husband. Talk to the doctor about options and see what he can design as a doable treatment plan.

Shiloah29
Posts: 17
Joined: May 2011

Thanks Cabbott. You have helped me understand some of how this could happen. We went back to the oncologist today and we started the radiation on his neck yesterday. I don't really know what to think. He seemed( the oncologist) to be saying that this next chemo drug would be our last hope. I am hoping that it works but what happens if it does not? Do we just go down hill after that. I read and hear of people living for yrs with cancer and we have only been in this battle for less than a year. I am sort of depressed about the whole thing/

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Sometimes a second opinion helps when you are facing negative news. I would go to a university hospital that is known for treating lung cancer. Your current doctor if not your insurance company should help you set up a consultation with an expert. They don't always need you to come for a visit to do this. Sometimes it can be done by mail. If they have a new trial or maybe just some good ideas that might work, the time spent will be worth its weight in gold. But even if they agree with your oncologist's prediction, it is good to hear for an expert. At least you know you tried all that could be tried.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

To be rigidly honest, shiloah, some people don't last. If you are reading of folks who have survived, and you obviously are, please consider that those who have not survived are not writing.

Cancer is a killer. In here, we tend to emphasize the successes, because we are successes, as long as we are still writing :), and personally I stress Hope and Humor as ways to keep going.

But we don't all make it.

That is a tragic but true fact, and also the reason we celebrate so ardently when someone DOES make it.

In any event, the best thing to do, besides cabbott's excellent suggestions, is to realize that you need to, both of you, celebrate life to the best of your abilities while you have time to celebrate. Cancer or not, all of us are mortal, and cancer at least helps some of us to realize that.

Best wishes to your husband and his family and loved ones.

Take care,

Joe

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