CSN Login
Members Online: 23

80 Year Old Mom

Nan-Peg11
Posts: 15
Joined: Aug 2011

Hi all -

I stumbled across this blog while looking for information about my Mom's suggested treatment plan.

She was diagnosed with Anal Cancer. It's a 7-8cm lesion with one questional lymphnode in the groin. She is 80 years old and in "relatively" good health. Although, recently, she had a pacemaker implanted and has high blood pressure. She's very fatigued already without treatment.

Oncologist's opinion - Chemo/Radiation combo. Other options - do nothing and surgery (colostomy).

She's asking my opinion of the Chemo/Rad and I have grave misgivings knowing the potential side effects. Not everyone on here mentions their age but, I haven't seen anyone near 80. People much younger talking about how awful it is.

Anyone know of someone this old getting this kind of treatment? Outcome?

Thanks

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2888
Joined: Jan 2010

I have not personally been in contact with or seen any bloggers here who are of that age with this diagnosis. I was 54 when I got treatment and it was hard on me--and I was in very good physical condition. It is hard for me to imagine going through that @ 80 years old. That being said, APR surgery with permanent colostomy is major surgery, not to mention the adjustments and lifestyle changes that come with it. As with any surgery, there is a risk of complications. I know this is a tough decision. Does she have any other doctors who can be asked for an opinion, such as her primary care physician, as to how well she could tolerate the chemo/rad? I'm sorry that you and your mother find yourselves in this dilemma and I hope that the docs can give you some advice to help you make a decision. I wish her all the best.

RoseC's picture
RoseC
Posts: 503
Joined: Jun 2011

Strictly my own opinion - if I was 80, or my mother was 80 and looking at chemo and radiation, I wouldn't do it. At 80, I think I'd rather take my chances with letting things be. My experience with the older people in my life has been that around the age of 80, things can really start to go downhill easily. The chemo/rad will likely be very difficult for your mom. It kills your immune system, not to mention dealing with the burns and other side effects. At 54 it was tough but do-able. At 80, I just don't know.

I don't have any experience with colostomy, but agree with mp327 that it would also be difficult. MP327's idea about getting another opinion, one from someone who knows your mother's history and current status, is a very good one.

That's really a tough decision - I wish I could help more.

z's picture
z
Posts: 1249
Joined: May 2009

Hello, sorry you had to find yourself here. I think about my mom and if she could handle this tx, at 73, and I don't think she would do as well as my grandmother would have at age 80. Just due to the personality and physical condition. The tx only takes 2 cycles of chemo and the rest is radiation, and the good part would be that she will me monitered closley. Your mom will have to decide if she wants to try. This is a curable cancer and it is hard to recover, but there are many ways to deal with the side effects. If her drs think she will be okay then thats the main thing. This is very difficult and I wish you and your mom well. Lori

Nan-Peg11
Posts: 15
Joined: Aug 2011

Thank you for your answers.

After speaking with the oncologist (who recommends the chem/rad treatment) and reading through this blog about the severe effects of radiation treatment, I'm considering giving my mom my true opinion - that I don't think she should have treatment. (She has asked me several times since being diagnosed.) [She has had 2 opinions. this treatment would be in a cancer center. Have appointment with Radiation Oncologist next week.] While the oncologists have both said treatment is her best option of 3 not great options, I really don't think they are considering her age so much as that it's "curable". At what cost?

Before becoming educated about what she'd be facing, I already had doubts that she could handle this "mentally". She has difficulty with even minor medical situations and this is far from minor. Being upbeat is not her strong suit.

She's been very tired for several months now. Due to the cancer? We don't know. The thought of this kind of impact on her system seems too much.

Has anyone not gotten treatment? What's been the quality of life? What's the progression of the disease like?

Thank you,

z's picture
z
Posts: 1249
Joined: May 2009

The radiation tx is sometimes used just to give the patient relief from pain in unoperable situations. I know the progression may cause the cancer to metastisized to the liver and or lungs. Who knows it might not go anywhere but continue to grow. I know I felt awful for years every morning waking up thinking this is how I am suppose to feel? Well now I feel better than I ever have. Although I was a 35 year smoker and quit at the anal cancer dx on 5-4-09. I wish you and your mom well. Lori

alis7910
Posts: 80
Joined: Jun 2010

Hi:
so sorry that you and your mother are challenged in this way. Did the Dr's give you a prognosis if she has radiation and chemo? I am an RN. I would not suggest a cholostomy for your mother. it is major surgery and then she would need to deal with having a colostomy. That is hard to adjust to, even if you are young and healthy.
hugs to you both

RoseC's picture
RoseC
Posts: 503
Joined: Jun 2011

Hi - I had another thought about your mom. You said she's not an upbeat person. Given this new diagnosis of cancer, she may be prone to going into a depression and kind of giving up. I wonder if some kind of treatment - not a full dose or anything - might help her in that at least she'd be doing something about it, and not just thinking 'I've got cancer, that's it then, I'm all done" (if you know what I mean).

I read up some on cancer treatment for aged folks and the article mentioned that they often will not give an older person the full dose of treatment - instead of trying to cure them, they just try to alleviate what symptoms they can. Might be something to talk to the doctors about? If you can find a doctor who deals in both geriatrics and cancer, he/she may have some good recommendations.

cathy ma
Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2010

Hello Nan,
I have a 80 yo Mom living with anal Cancer,
Shes been through alot, chemo, rad and surgery....She had surgery on 8/1/11 (Colostomy)
She remains in a rehab to date, fighting her way back after a tough surgery...very slow process, mentally and phys....But she could no longer live with the pain of bowl movements, constipation and the burning pain while sitting...Her surgeon suggested that this surgery was the only way to get rid of the painful tumor...I think she was desperate, and did it....Quite frankly, our family did not think she would make it through this surgery (due to other medical issues) But she did....Cant say she is much better and that the pain is gone, but she makes baby steps to recovery, she keeps fighting!
At this point, she has a open wound where her rectum was, not healing as fast as we thought due to rad burns...the local burning pain remains!
We are constantly trying to find a way to get her in a good place as far as pain is concerned, but at this age it is a balancing act! Can she ever came home? so many issues!
I share my story, in hopes to support and be supported in our journey....So feel free to post or email at cmaio55@charter.net We can use all the help we can get! Thank you

z's picture
z
Posts: 1249
Joined: May 2009

Hello Cathy, I'm so sorry for what your mom has been through. Since its been 2 months that's not a very long time to heal. I know with me being 50 and having the standard chemo/radiation treatment, it took me a good year before I felt back to myself. I hope your mom will continue to heal, and she does sound like a fighter and she has a lot going for her in that respect. I know that the colostomy must be a huge change for your mom and I hope this will alleviate any and all pain she was having. Thank you for sharing and keep us posted. Lori.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 782
Joined: May 2011

Your mom is amazing. I keep thinking of how hard this would be for me if it were my Mom. Harder, I think than if it were me. Thank you for posting. As far as "will she be able to go home." She will probably need to go into a Rehab center prior to going home. There she will relearn how to function with her new body. I am 61. Almost two months post treatment. I have pain issues too and although I have not been through anything like what your Mom has been through, recognize that I am to some degree learning about my "new" body. My mom after a long illness went from her home to a Senior Living Center that is much better for her than living at home. She never went anywhere or did anything and now she participates in lots of activities and takes classes. We celebrate her 85th on November 6th. We never know how these life experiences can benefit us eventually. Hang in there and thanks for keeping us up to date.
Fondly,
Sandy

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2888
Joined: Jan 2010

Thanks for sharing the information about your mom. I'm sorry that she has had to go through all of this, but I hope she is seeing improvements and getting along okay. I send my best wishes to her--and to you!

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network