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Are agressive combined radiation / chemo treatments smart?

georgie2
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2011

Hello Everyone. A 69 year old relative of mine was recently diagnosed with non small cell lung cancer stage 3 maybe 4. He was admitted to the hospital 9 days ago with trouble breathing. 4 days ago a stent was inserted in a major artery to keep the tumor from putting pressure on it. 2 days ago the doctor made a formal diagnosis and started radiation treatment - on the same day. Now the doctor wants to start chemotherapy on Friday. So he will have chemo and radiation treatments during the same period.

The answers to my newbie questions are probably posted somewhere, but I'm having trouble locating them. I'd very much appreciate any help you might offer.

Do any of you have thoughts about whether or not this is a wise thing to do? My relatives are in shock and not asking many questions, so the reasoning is unknown. Does anyone have an opinion about getting a second opinion? Should the second oncologist be consulted before chemo starts?

And how do they go about deciding which doctor to go with? My relatives are simply going with the oncologist that was assigned by the hospital. This may or may not be a great thing. Is there a webgroup where patients share information regarding oncologists? Does anyone care to rate Stanford Cancer Center which might be a good place for a second opinion?

Thank you very much for any help and time you might offer.

Best wishes,
georgie2

Ex_Rock_n_Roller's picture
Ex_Rock_n_Roller
Posts: 269
Joined: Mar 2011

Depends on how you define "wise." Statistics say that you are somewhat better off re. survival by taking radiation and chemo simultaneously (you can find the info on the web). I had this question, as I had simultaneous rad and chemo recommended, and stood up to them with very little problem at age 58. It may depend on what type of cancer you have, and in any case, the percentage improvement is small (but small is big when you're talking lung cancer).

So, leave aside the "wise" value judgment, I can tell you that it's often recommended, and more than a few of us here have done it.

georgie2
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2011

Thank you for your thoughts.

georgie2
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2011

Thank you for your thoughts.

Dan620
Posts: 213
Joined: Dec 2009

3B nsclc inoperable had chemo once every 3 weeks (Carbo / Taxol) and 35 rads 5 days a week for 7 weeks at age 66, last treatments Aug 2008. I won't kid you i had some tuff days, but 3 years 2 months later doing very well. I'm on no meds - have ct-scan or chest x-rays every 3 months, my next is Dec 7th ct-scan with and without contrast, then see Onco Dr on the 9th and if all is well i will not haveto go back for 6 months(holding breath and praying like crazy.... They call this scananxiety) ...... Best wishes for your relative...... Dan ..... ................ Ex_Rock_n_Roller glad to see your do great.... Stay well also

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

Congrats on the great news, Dan! You are in my thoughts, hopeful that your next scan is even better than your last. (FYI: I often say to people in the chat room, it's not the scan that matters, it's the results :)).

Take care,

Joe

georgie2
Posts: 4
Joined: Nov 2011

Thank you for your thoughts.

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

I had surgery followed by a combination of cisplatin and 33 of 35 scheduled rad sessions (five days a week for seven weeks and I only played hooky twice, imagine that!). My attitude has always been to be as aggressive as possible and if that means to combine the two immediately after lengthy surgery, then so be it: I want it out.

Meanwhile, if this relative of yours has reason not to trust his/her oncologist, then a second opinion is definitely in order. Otherwise, my personal preference is to ride with the horse that brought me to the dance. But trust is KEY...not by you but by the person dealing with cancer.

Just my thoughts.

Take care,

Joe

AlanRinHBG
Posts: 120
Joined: May 2011

That might sound aggressive now, but it is cancer and the doc. wants to beat it up. I too did the 35 radiations and chemo cisplatin and etopocide all at the same time. It was nsclc. Treatment works, I've been in remission for almost 2 years. A second opinion is never a bad idea and your doc. won't mind.. You'll find similar protocols at other treatment centers. This group went through pretty close to the same thing you're describing and we're still kickin. Faith and trust in the doc is key as Joe says. was for me.

dennycee
Posts: 667
Joined: Mar 2011

....worked for me. At the time of my dx my oncologist made a point of telling me that I had 10 months. Docs rarely tell you things like that but he wanted my to understand the gravity of my condition and to get my affairs in order. That was 13 months ago and I am still going strong. At this point good health becomes relative, but I am doing very well and show no signs of slowing down.

forme's picture
forme
Posts: 1158
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi Georgie2

We have a family friend that was diagnosed with nsclc stage 3 in July. Nonoperable. Their age is 82. They were told that there was not much hope at their age and not much in the way of options. They were not to happy with that news. They did seek another opinion. They went to the Stanford Cancer Center, and promptly switched to the Onc at Stanford. They were also concerned about the combined treatment of chemo/rads. But felt that it would be the best hope for continued survival. This family friend has just finished up treatment. They are doing well even with the advanced age. I would say to go get another opinion at Stanford.
There is also a monthly support group at Stanford for lung cancer. All ages are welcome to attend. Our friend really got a lot from the group. I think it is on the second Wednesday of each month. But you should look it up to be sure.

Best to you

medi_2's picture
medi_2
Posts: 506
Joined: Aug 2009

YES! I am living proof ;).
Medi

mybravemom
Posts: 20
Joined: Oct 2011

My mom at age 79 just finished her Chemo/Rad as well...She definitely had some rough days, but is getting through them taking one day at a time....She has 3b Non small cell and she had gone for a 2nd opinion...Her Onc decided to follow the protocol of the other Dr. (even though he was going to treat pretty much the same way).

She was given Carboplatin/Etoposide, it was hard on her that is for sure, but at 79, if she can come out of this, I think that your relative should tolerate the treatments well, as long as they are in pretty good health.

My moms is very aggressive, they decided they needed to go at it aggressively as well....
My suggestion is let them begin treatments (no need to wait) and in the mean time take all the information that they give you and contact another Oncolgist (get referrals) and let them look at there information and they will suggest to his/her Onc what there protocol would be in treating that particular cancer.

Thoughts and prayers to you and yours :)

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