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Lung cancer

spot54
Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2005

A few weeks ago my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. They say it hasn't spread and her PET scan showed only a few suspicious lymph nodes near the tumor. Her doctor suggests radiation & maybe chemo. Why wouldn't they remove the tumor (lung or 1/2 of it)& the few lymph nodes & then try radiation or chemo? She's really depressed, the few people she knows who have gone through this had theirs removed & are doing well, but her dr. says for her it's not an option. What does radiation & chemo do? Does it stop the cancer? Does it kill it? Has anyone here gone through something similar? Thanks so much!
Spot54

BILL914
Posts: 21
Joined: Jul 2005

It's difficult and probably not advised to second guess what your mothers doctor(s)have in mind. My doctors initially said that surgery was not an option for me. I also had a PET Scan which showed what they call "UPTAKES" in my left lung with some involvement with lymph nodes. They staged me at 3A Non Small Cell cancer. They said that they did not plan on surgery but ordered 6 weeks of radiation and 7 weekly chemo treatments. Their goal was to shrink/kill the tumor. At the end of treatments, they said I responded so well to the treatments that they decided to do surgery after all. Once they went in, they ended up taking my entire left lung. This was on 12/2/4. I am doing fine now. Working full time and doing some light hiking. I guess if I were to give advice, I would say that if you are not comfortable with the treatment plan, go for a second opinion. When you say "maybe chemo", I would imagine they would have to be extremely accurate to get everything with radiation alone. With my radiation, they aimed the beams at certain places. The Chemo goes through your entire system and seeks out fast growing cells. That is why some people loose their hair with Chemo. Those are also fast growing cells but they grow back. I did not loose hair so it doesn't always happen. I believe the chemo gets what the radiation may miss.
Best of luck.

AuthorUnknown
Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

I was diag. with NSCLC (BAC)in June of 04, My stage was a 3A, I did go for a second oponion and both Drs. said they would not remove my lung, from what I understand, it's because of the type of NSCLC. I had radiation and chemo at the same time. They told me the chemo opened up the tumor amd this made it easier for the radiation to work, Then after 7 weeks of radiation each day Mon-Fri. and chemo once a week I took a break for about 3 weeks and then had another 6 weeks of chemo (once a week)I just had a CT scan in Sept and there is no sign og cancer. I do have a lot of scar tissue from the radiation.

Hope this helps

Jo Ann

gdpawel's picture
gdpawel
Posts: 538
Joined: May 2001

In cancer treatment, surgery is generally used if it can cure the cancer. It is most useful in cancers that have not spread. However, if the cancer has spread to only one area or is small, then it may be possible to remove it completely with surgery. It is likely that surgical skill is a more important determinant of prognosis than the aggressive nature of the cancer or its stage at diagnosis. Some surgeons view chemotherapy as a remedy for "bad" surgery. Chemotherapy just isn't good enough to make up for surgical mistakes (e.g. failure to get good margins, tumor spills during surgery, etc.).

Surgical oncologists are specially trained to treat tumors with surgical techniques, and have undergone additional specialty training in oncology. Surgical procedures for cancer are often complex and technically demanding. Studies have shown that patients have better outcomes, the lowest complications and death rates when they are treated by experienced surgical oncologists. In addition, cutting-edge techniques can often provide superior results over tried-and-true methods that have been around for many years.

You are more likely to get a good surgeon at a major cancer center or a university hospital. Local hospitals are much more iffy, especially if the surgeons there are not board certified in Surgical Oncology and/or have not performed surgeries on many patients with successful outcomes. The most important prognostic factor is the surgeon.

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