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General Questions & Cyberknife

Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2008

My mother (86 yrs old) was just diagnosed with stage IV cancer with tumors in her lung and on her adrenal gland. She just had a petscan done and we'll find out in two days if there is cancer in other locations. She is scheduled for a consult at the Rocky Mountain Cyberknife facility in Boulder, CO this next Thurs. Based on what I've read about it on the internet, this sounds like a very promising procedure as far killing the cancer cells with little side affects and the minimal number of radiation treatments (3-5 treatments) instead of the ~30 stereotactic treatments. Based on what the doctors have told us so far, this cancer doesn't sound like it's curable so our goal is to help my mother feel as comfortable as we can in her remaining time.
Have any of you had experience w/cyberknife and what are your thoughts?
Will treatments, whether radiation or chemo, help with her pain which seems to be coming from the adrenal gland tumor?
The preliminary prognosis is for 6 months to 2 years of life expectency. If the treatments kill the tumor, does the cancer inevitably come back with a vengence and is that what eventually kills?
My mother in law died of cancer about 20 years ago and she went through radiation treatments. She became so weak and nauseous that in her final days, she said that if she had to do it all over again, she wouldn't have gone through the treatments. Are today's treatments that much better?
God bless you all.
Her loving son,

nubis's picture
Posts: 98
Joined: Mar 2008

Hi kelly
My name is NUBIA. My husband was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer october 2007. We started with quimoterapy but now we need to take radiation to control the tumor. We had the same concern about radiation. But now is very different. The technology is more advanced and more specific. Of course there are risk but your doctor must to let you know if the benefits are greater than the risks.
My husband is 31 years old and we will take the risk, because the quimo was not enough. Talk with your doctor. My prayers for you and your mother. Don't give up.

Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2008

Thank you for your response. I hope and pray that your husband can beat this and that you can both spend a very long and happy life together.

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

It sounds like, from your post, that you have a really good idea, Kelly, of what is going on and may just want some confirmation.

From what you have written, it sounds as though the doctors are considering palliative care for your mom, which pretty much means, as you point out yourself, they are going to try to extend her life, while it has sufficient quality, until the pain and perhaps other issues make that no longer the most desirable situation for her.

Often, in this case, chemotherapy and perhaps radiation are used to kill some of the cancer, as much as they can get, while hopefully not overwhelming the patient with pain or otherwise taking away the ability to enjoy life.

My mom, for example, fought ovarian cancer for several years, and only gave in (if you will) when the cancer went to her brain (from a previous breast cancer 20 years earlier, apparently). In her case, she weathered the pain but refused to submit to the deterioration of her brain. A choice her family had no problem going with.

In your case, it sounds like the doctors' willingness to go with this 'cyberknife' treatment (I know nothing about) should be interpreted as remaining hope.

It IS possible for chemo and/or rads to eradicate cancer entirely, and no doctor would refute that possibility, so there, again, is hope. And just today, as I was receiving chemo, I ws advised, not for the first time, that chemotherapy treatments, in particular, are becoming more advanced and less painful every day.

Ask me tomorrow about the truth of that (:)).

There are also a bunch of Stage IV cancer survivors on this very site who have had long and productive lives, qualitative lives, despite the original odds!

Your mom has a tough row to hoe, particularly at her age, but there is always hope.

On the other hand, I am hopeful that your mom has lived a joyous 86 years surrounded by those she loved, and surrounded by them now when she may need them most. She has some tough tasks ahead of her, and so do you and the rest of her loved ones.

Take care, and best wishes to your mom.


Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2008

Thanks for your response Joe. Yes, my mom has lived a very joyous life and I guess to even live to the age of 86 is a blessing. Even though you know your parents won't live forever, when you first hear the news that your parent has cancer and doesn't have that much time to live, it makes you face the fact of her's and your own mortality.
My mother had breast cancer over 50 years ago and was a survivor. I am so blessed that she beat the cancer then as I was born a few years after that. No matter which treatment path the doctors and my mom go with, I know we will try and make the most of the remaining time we have together.
Sorry to hear about your mom. Good luck on the chemo treatment.

Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2008

Thank you for posting about cyberknife! My Mom (76) with stage III cancer tumor in her lung had the cyberknife treatment last month. I also searched the internet for information, and even on this site, nobody had ever been through it, but had heard of it. There was no pain during the 4 day treatment, and after the treatments my Mom was a little more tired than usual, and her cough was worse, but the doctor said this is normal since the radiation beams targeted the lung. According to the doctor, the radiation she received takes time to work, so her next scan which is in a month will show the progress of the treatments.
Your Mother is lucky to be a candidate for cyberknife as well as mine. From what I have heard, not everyone is a good candidate for this treatment. My cousin had gammaknife on his brain tumor after being given only six months to live by another doctor. The tumor is now dissovled, and what a miracle that is. I really feel for you and your Mom. As far as the treatments easing your Mom's pain, I wouldn't know the answer to that. We asked if the cyberknife treatments would help my Mom's breathing(she has a very difficult time walking short distances), and the doctor said it was possible, but he couldn't promise anything.
I have heard nothing but positive results about cyberknife, yet I haven't talked to anyone or seen any posts on the internet from someone who has been through it. I like to believe that this is because it is so new.
My family is very anxious to know how effective these treatments are. I hope your Mom finds relief from some of her pain. It has been so painful for me to watch my Mom so sick, and it sure sounds like she is lucky to have you as her son. Take care, and god bless...

Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2008

Thank you for response Hart. I am really happy to hear about your mom's experience with cyberknife. We talked with the doctor today at the treatment facility and he seemed very confident that they can treat the adrenal gland tumor with just 4 treatments. They say that the treatment is so accurate of where it puts the radiation that the side affects, if any, are very minimal. He did say that the tumor may swell some after the treatment and possibly cause her additional pain for a couple of days, but then hopefully that will all go away as the swelling goes down.
For the lung tumor, they aren't sure the cyberknife treatment is the best treatment since the tumor is quite large and is not a consistent mass. Apparently the tumor has a hole in the center that is filled with fluid instead of tissue. They aren't giving up hope of treating it with the cyberknife, but they think that possibly traditional radiation and or chemo therapy may be more appropriate for that tumor.
She starts her cyberknife treatment next week so hopefully she'll get some pain relief soon.
Hope your mom beats this and has many more years to enjoy life. I'm sure your mom appreciates all that you are doing to help her and comfort her. We would be very interested and appreciative if you kept us posted as to her progress.
May God bless you and your mom.

Posts: 7
Joined: Apr 2008

There is Chemo Pill name Tarcevic for stage 4 Lung cancer. It only has very little side affect and provides a very good quality of life. It works for me. I don't know it will work for your Mom. You can check with the doctor.

Posts: 6
Joined: Apr 2008

Thanks Irene. The oncologist mentioned Tarcevic as a possible treatment path and said that they are having good results with it. He said it was a secondary treatment which made it sound like you have to try some other treatment first and then they could prescribe Tarcevic. I might have misunderstood what he said though too. My mother really doesn't want to start chemo but maybe this will work for her, especially if there are little side affects.

junes daughter
Posts: 2
Joined: Oct 2008

Hi Hart-
My mom has Stage IV colon cancer that has metastasized to her lungs. She is currently finishing up her 2nd round of chemo treatments and is looking into stereotactic (cyberknife)radiosurgery.

I am wondering if you can give me more information on where she had it done and by who?

Thank you in advance.

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