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PCI- any advice?

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2009

Good morning!

My father completed his chemo treatment on 12/29. He had a CT scan of his chest, pelvic and abdomen a week after his last treatment. The cancer in his abdomen disappeared but there is still a 2 cm mass in his right lung. Then he had another CT scan ordered on 1/25. In that CT scan, the staff did not see any growth or reduction. However, they saw pneumonia in his lungs. They prescribed him the Z-pak. After finishing his antibiotics, he still has a cough. When I asked the doc why, she said it was due to the residue from chemo treatment. She later prescribed him hydromet syrup. It usually wouldn't concern me, but my dad coughed a ton before chemo, then after his 2nd round of chemo, the cough went away and now at the end, it's back again. Is the cough normal?

Also, the doc recommended that the next step is to do a PCI on his brain. We have an appt on Wednesday to discuss this procedure.

Here are some questions I need answered:

Is there a reason why they wouldn't radiate the 2 cm mass in his right lung? Why PCI? Are there other alternatives besides PCI? What are the risks and benefits of this procedure? Is this procedure recommended for all SCLC patients after chemo? Side effects of PCI? What is the survival rate if we decide to go with/without this procedure? What is the quality of life after the procedure is done?

Please advise.


medi_2's picture
Posts: 509
Joined: Aug 2009

Hi Moonshine, Well as you can see, I'm pretty normal (well I've never been normal, but close enough ;). My Rad. Doc. told me that if I had PCI it would cut my chances of getting brain cancer in half (and the brain is first place lung cancer likes to move to) and PCI is a walk in the park compared to brain cancer. That was good enough for me. I had already had a good dose of chemo and radiation for my lung tumor and I had a complete response; no cancer anywhere, so I went ahead and did it. The first day I thought I was going to die from a headache. I think it was mostly stress because the rest of the treatments were fine. It has been a few months short of a year since I finished and I am feeling now like I am almost full speed ahead. I have had short term memory loss but it is getting better too. I would recommend it (not the memory loss, the procedure). There will be hair loss and it won't come back for 2 or 3 months, but I think that is a small price to pay. Check out my page and see what I did with my radiation mask!
Good luck to you!!!

Posts: 45
Joined: Jan 2010

Is PCI recommended for both sclc and nsclc. This is something I have never heard of could you please tell me what kind of test is it.

stayingcalm's picture
Posts: 654
Joined: Feb 2007

PCI isn't a test, it stands for prophylactic cranial irradiation - radiation to the brain to keep the cancer from growing there. It's a "just in case" procedure, and I believe it can be done for both NSCLC and SCLC patients. It's not without issues, though, as Medi said, short-term memory loss is one side effect. I had WBR and I'm still struggling not to mix up my letters when I'm typing, and to remember what it was I was in the middle of doing five minutes ago. I do think it is getting better, though!

Talk to your oncologist - is he suggesting it for you?


**I'm sorry, I just realized this was addressed to Medi!

medi_2's picture
Posts: 509
Joined: Aug 2009

Hi Deb! Yes, that short term memory loss is getting better; however I just went up to the 7-11 to buy some gas, went in, bought a coffee and paid for the gas and just left! Hahaha! Somewhere down the road my 'low fuel' light came on and DUH! Late for work again!
Anyway...I'm still glad I had the procedure.

Posts: 14
Joined: Jun 2009

My mother had PCI in Nov. 09 after being NED following her chemo regiment. So far so good - two stable CT scans and MRIs. (Next ones are in April). My understanding is that it's recommended for all SCLC patients who are NED after radiation/chemo.

The hair loss has been hard, but she found a fantastic wig that is so close to her own hair style that if you didn't know, you couldn't tell. Short-term memory and focus has frustrated her, but nothing serious. She's now walking two miles a day several times a week. Like some of the comments above, the prospect of brain mets was more worrisome than PCI.

Posts: 84
Joined: Nov 2005

It will be six years this Wednesday that I completed my PCI and thus my treatments for sclc. Yea there are issues with memory I have to take my time and think things out, my spelling is not as accurate as it once was and sometimes I have a hard time recognizing and remembering people I have met. I was tested this past February for what's called "Chemo Brain" or "Chemo Fog " and yea I got it. I still work full time and use memo pads to write reminders to myself. I can agree the treatment that my cancer team suggested for me has worked out rather well, I have no regrets. --Keep Fighting and Be Well........

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