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Lung cancer at stage 4

Susan_Xu
Posts: 14
Joined: Sep 2006

I have never feel that I need some support group so much until now. This is a wonderful site.
The past one week is a week I will never forget. My dad is found that he has lung cancer and has already spread to his other lung and bone. He has received Chemo the last two days. Doctors said his cancer does not look good. But my dad looks very healthy. He does not cough, eats well, sleep well, still energetic. The only thing he feel is a little bit uncomfortable of his bone. He is only 65. He is now in China. But I am thinking about bringing his tests results to the states to get a second opinion. I live in NYC. Any suggestions.

Thanks.

Plymouthean's picture
Plymouthean
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hello. I am a five year survivor of non small cell lung cancer, stage 3a, originally diagnosed as inoperable/incurable. Please don't take this as sarcasm, but no cancer looks good. My point is that the doctor's statement is very vague.
You would be very well advised to take your father's test results to someplace in NYC for a second opinion. Sloan-Kettering comes immediately to mind. What is the possibility that your father could come here to be evaluated?
I don't know much at all about the health-care system in China, so naturally I would opt for treatment in the United States.
Meanwhile, don't panic. Any prognosis is based on history. That's all well and good, but, with all the advances in treatment, today is a good starting point to attack your father's cancer and not dwell on history. Any statistics that you hear include survivors. Keep that in mind while you pursue treatment for your father.
The fact that he has just started chemotherapy is important. The treatments will have some effect on his physical condition, and he may appear to be failing. This is natural with chemo, and it is not necessarily due to the cancer, per se. Keep a positive attitude as he fights this battle.
My prayers and best wishes to your father and you. Please keep us informed.

Susan_Xu
Posts: 14
Joined: Sep 2006

Thanks for your support. I used to work at MSKCC and is thinking about them. But most of evaluation would like to see the patient. He has received a very good care right now in China. But I just do not like the attitude here towards cancer. It is like equal to death. But I feel in the states, people are more likely to fight against it. Do you know any treatments available for his case?

Plymouthean's picture
Plymouthean
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

I was treated aggressively with chemo (Cisplatin/Etoposide, 3 cycles) and radiation (55 treatments). That treatment reduced the tumor by 75%. The tumor was then removed surgically, along with the upper lobe of my right lung.
Beyond relating my experience, I am not qualified to recommend a specific treatment.

karenlee3sons
Posts: 35
Joined: Apr 2002

Hi, I am a survivor. My lung cancer was stage 4. I had a lobectomy then chemo and radiation. It has been 8 years with no recurrence. Being positive truly helps. Lung cancer is not always a death sentence. More and more people are surviving and living longer. Good luck!

Susan_Xu
Posts: 14
Joined: Sep 2006

I truly feel I am home with your support and encouage.

My dad's cancer is non-small cell lung Adenocarcinoma cancer. And doctors here said it is a very aggregrasive cancer and can spread quicky. Anyone is familar with Taxol? I discussed with a doctor about using Tarceva, but he said he would prefer to use Taxol first. They do not want to start radiation now because the cells have already spread widely. They want to wait until he starts pain. any advise?

karenlee3sons
Posts: 35
Joined: Apr 2002

Eight years ago the treatment I had was surgery to remove a lobe, then chemo of taxol, carboplatin and then after 33 days of radiation. Here I am, still doing well, please tell your dad he can beat this. Think positively. Best of luck...

kaitek
Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

Hi Susan,

Welcome to the club though under unfavorable circumstances. Your father's cancer sounds on the surface to be like my mom's. Hers spread to other parts of her lungs and bone. Don't be discouraged by the spreading.

There are many survivors. I would bet if the statistics excluded the cancer victims maybe 5 years ago, the survival stats would be higher. It's truly amazing (at least to me) the strides they are making in treatment options. I am encouraged by those advancements. I think you would too when you read those cancer news. It really helps to counter the dire odds and stats that are given perfunctorily.

I would be encouraged your dad is doing relatively well, especially with the appetite and energy. Loss of appetite is a common cancer symptom that further impacts a patient's recovery. If the patient isn't eating well and getting his or her nutrients, it makes recovery a bit more difficult.

Anyhow, my mother had bone discomfort in her pelvis. It took about 4 chemo treatments before my mother regained strength in the pelvis where the cancer spread.

I often come across the Chinese herb astragulus (?) as a cancer fighter. You and your father can decided along with his oncologist whether he wants to supplement chemo with herbal aids.

Other than that, I would opt for the 3-combo punch of chemo and a targeted drug treatment (e.g., Tarceva or Avastin). Ask your dad's oncologist if your dad is a good candidate or if that option is available. I'm more inclined that as long as the 3-combo mix doesn't bring on more side effects the greater combination keeps the cancer cells from being resistant.

Anyway, good luck to you and your dad.

ernrol's picture
ernrol
Posts: 91
Joined: Apr 2006

Susan,
My cancer is very similar to your dads. I had stage IV with a pleural effusion. Taxol is usually given with another drug that is platin based like Carboplatin. I had Carboplatin, Taxol, and Tarceva all at the same time. Some doctors do not want to use Tarceva as a first line treatment they save it for second line drug, and others say it works best in non smoking Asian women. I am not a woman, I was a heavy smoker, quit 30 years ago, and I am not Asian. So much for that theory. I have been cancer free since November 2005. I take a lot of supplements including Chinese herb Astragalus mentioned by kaitek. My story is posted here just put ernrol in the search widow at the top then click on ernrol at the right. If I can answer any questions let me know. I think Tarceva is a great drug and I still take it. There are clinical trial using Tarceva as a first line treatment. One at Sloan Kettering with Carboplatin and Taxol.

Ernie

Susan_Xu
Posts: 14
Joined: Sep 2006

Thanks for your encourage. My dad just had his first chem done two days ago and we are waiting to see the effect. He is doing fine now. I want to try radiation at the same time, but doctors said radiation would not help his tumors in bones. Any suggestions?

kaitek
Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

Hi Susan,

My mom also has stage 4 NSCLC adenocarcinoma. The cancer cells were also aggressive. The oncologist estimated the cancer cells were only 3 months old at most. Yet, by the time we caught it, it had already spread to her pelvis.

Before my mom saw an oncologist (she was still hospitalized at the time), I spoke with a nurse practioner for her thoracic surgeon. She assumed that my mom would get radiation and chemo. Chemo is systemic, meaning it works on the entire body whereas radiation is targeted at specific areas. I'm not sure I would like my mom exposed to radiation with the personal stories of the toll radiation has on the body. I know of a new type of radiation that is more precise (i.e., proton therapy) that is done at MD Anderson in Dallas.

Lot of the cases I've read involve radiation and/or surgery with only a few receiving just chemo or a targeted drug (e.g., Tarceva). I can tell you that with just chemo, the cancer in my mom's pelvis appears to be gone. She no longer feels any pain or weakness in her hip. So, don't feel your dad is getting substandard treatment because he's on chemo only.

My suggestion is that he could boost the effectiveness of chemo with diet and possibly herbs. It's your call and judgement. There are several threads that discuss that topic.

Good luck!

jadjr
Posts: 30
Joined: Jan 2006

The main campus of MD Anderson is in Houston TX

kaitek
Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

My bad. Thanks for correcting my misinformation of where MD Anderson is actually located.

Susan_Xu
Posts: 14
Joined: Sep 2006

I just came back from China with my dad's tests results and hopefully can find some doctors in NYC getting a second opinion.

My dad has no side effect of his first round chemo so far. Does it mean a good sign or bad sign? He is taking a lot of Chinese herbals. Have you guys heard anything about the CAAT therapy?

kaitek
Posts: 156
Joined: Aug 2006

Susan_Xu,

Don't worry about the little things or what the American idiom has about not sweating the small stuff. You'll stress yourself out unnecessarily.

Now to answer your questions, lots of people don't experience side effects, especially with first round of chemo. If your dad is on Taxol and Carbo, it is the same regiment my mom is on. It took over 4 rounds before her hair even started falling out. Right now, she still has hair on her head! She's not bald at all. The only other side effect she's experienced was the numbness in her fingers and toes which took even longer to present themselves. Even at that, the numbness isn't pronounced and more often than not, she doesn't have the sensation. It's very minor.

Chemo is cumulative so it may take several rounds for your dad to experience side effects, IF he gets any at all. In some ways you can think of it as the chemo is working when there is degenerative effects - meaning the chemo is destroying cells. But healthy cells and cancerous cells may react differently so even if the healthy cells may give into the chemo, the cancerous cells may be more tough. Hopefully, your dad's cancer cells are vulnerable and sensitive to the chemo.

I don't know too much about Chinese herbs except for astralugus, which I've read good things about its enhancing chemo. I do believe in Chinese herbs but it's critical to go to an herbalist who knows what he/she is doing. So good references are a must.

I don't know what CAAT stands for. I know about a CAT scan which is a diagnostic imaging tool that captures the image of the internal body of where the tumors may be. A CAT scan is usually done after 6 rounds of chemo to check if the tumor has shrunk or not. The doctors can then determine if the cancer cells are responsive to the chemo combination. If not, they will try a different regiment.

I don't know if I answered your questions fully, but I do wish your dad good results with his chemo treatment!!

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