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Help me understand Small Cell Lung Cancer

tinkerbell03
Posts: 1
Joined: May 2008

Hi My mom was diagnosed with Small Cell Lung Cancer in November. She was rushed to the hospital because she could not breath and they found the cancer. She has gone through Chemo and was in remission. She was on low dose chemo pills. In April she was taken to the hospital for a collasped lung and we were told that the chemo pills were not working and she went baack to chemo once a week. She is doing good now. She is off oxegen and home. I do not want to have false hope. Is this just another short remission and how long could this go on? Pls help me undrstand this kind of cancer. I want to be prepared for everything and help my mom as much as I could.

handle
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2006

hi, I have small cell lung cancer(limited), it is a very aggressive lung cancer and is mostly inoperable. I was diagnosed in May of 2001 and had chemo( cisplatnum, carboplatnum,vp-16 (etopicide) and taxol. I had problems with cisplatnum and was changed to carboplatnum my second cycle of chemo. My chemo was outpatient , three 9 hour days and then three weeks off and then continued again . My fourth cycle ,the tumor had shrunken enough to get into one port of radiation. I had radiation to my chest, side and back for six and one half weeks , six times a week. Well , as you can see , I am still here and thus a survivor. All, I can say is don't listen to the statistics about cancer, everyone is different and just be there to support your mother. I had a total of six cycles of the chemo. My oncologist tells me I am not cured because the tumor is still present but the longer you have no activity in the tumor the better your chances. Well, I hope this has helped you some and if I can offer anymore insight I would be happy to help. God Bless and hope this has helped some. Mike

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soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

A very nice post, handle, and congratulations, by the way, on your lengthy survivorship!

I have a question brought up by your description of what has happened to you, if you don't mind:

Speaking as a survivor of head/neck cancer who had a subsequent lobectomy on Jan 31 of this year to remove either a newly discovered primary or, woe unto me, mets from the earlier cancer, (squamous cell), I wonder, if they know there is a tumor, why they don't remove it. Probably a stupid question, but I ask because I DID have a small malignant growth removed and then, as I said, for precautionary reasons the entire lobe.

Thanks in advance for your informed response, and again, congratulations!

handle
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2006

Hi, My small cell lung cancer , is on left lung, in left lung, in lymph nodes, wrapped around my aorta artery and is pushing against my esophogus. I was told because it is so involved that mine is not operable, but from all the information that I have researched , I am in the norm and I guess yours was not in the norm. I guess my onco had her reason for not touching my tumor thru surgery, but like I said , thru everything I have read , small cell is mostly not operable. I would love to have this tumor removed from my body, it is always in the back of my mind, like the sleeping dragon. Thanks for the question , but what is , is. Mike

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soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Thank you for the reply. "Sleeping dragon" is one of the best phrases I've come across regarding how MOST of us feel about cancer, even when it is not so prominent as yours.

I suppose if I am out of the norm it is because mine is not small cell but squamous, just as the cancer in my tongue/neck were.

It is true that squamous makes up a smaller percentage of primaries in lung, but it does get there on its own, and that is my hope, strangely enough.

In any event, thanks again for a better understanding of your situation. My best wishes for continued good fortune in that regard.

Take care,

Joe

cabbott
Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

When they were pretty sure I had lung cancer, the surgeon sent me for pulmonary tests to see how much lung they could remove safely without totally destroying my quality of life. For me it was up to one lung. That was part of the decision making process the surgeon had to make. Also he said that he would not bother removing part or most of my lung if I was stage four. For that part of the decision, he relied on my PET/CAT scan of my head and mid-section. The reason for that is that stage four is treated with chemo. At stage four, the cows are out of the barn so to speak and shutting the barn door--or removing the lung in this case--wouldn't do much good. Why incapacitate the patient if it won't do much good is the reasoning there. Mind you, in breast cancer they found that removing the primary cancer extended life even if the patient was stage four, but no one has extended this reasoning to lung cancer that I know of. (I read about both since I have both). If a tumor is in a position that would be dangerous for the patient, then chemo is also the treatment of choice. Sometimes after the tumor is shrunk with chemo, surgery is again an option. Second opinions are valuable in cases where you are not sure that the doctor is being aggressive enough.

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soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

A very apt description, cabbott. My doctors and I had the same conversation: if it was determined that this spot in my lung was mets from the head/neck, they would not remove lobe; if it was not mets but a primary, they would remove the lobe because, to borrow your fine description, the cows might not yet be out of the barn.

In my case, they did the wedge biopsy and what they found was too small to make a determination, especially since, on one hand it was the same type as the head/neck, but on the other showed all clear in surrounding area and lymph nodes...with this information in hand, so to speak, they decided to try to close the barn door...quietly, so that the dragon would not be awakened :).

Thanks for the enlightment, my friend. Take care.

Joe

handle
Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2006

Hi, I am so sorry that you have had responces from others who do not have small cell lung cancer, I feel that it totally confuses you. I have been dealing with small cell for 7 years now, it is not staged as the other lung cancers, it is limited sclc or extensive, not stage 1- stage IV. The chemos are similar but then again the non-small cell lung is treated with different chemo's also.There has been much more research done on non-small cell lung cancer than on small cell lung cancer because less lung cancer patients have sclc. Like I originally said , sclc is very aggressive, while the non-small cell is slower growing, don't get me wrong , they are both bad cancers, just the sclc moves more aggressively. The cancer cells are smaller and are also described as "Oat Cell".I would suggest that you do more research about it on your own, one place that has alot of good medical news is," www.The Cancerpage.com. They post cancer news, medical breakthru's and clinical trials. I hope again that this helps some and will keep you and your Mom in my prayers. Mike

cad1223's picture
cad1223
Posts: 2
Joined: Jan 2008

Hello: Mike is right. Small cell is definitely different than non-small cell lung cancer. My dad just passed away after a year of battling extensive small cell lung cancer. That being said, everyone is different in their response to chemo treatments. I have been in contact with a person who has survived for more than 5 years with limited small cell. My dad's cancer was resistant to chemo almost from the beginning. When he was diagnosed, it was already in his liver and bones and it continued to grow and spread even with the most potent of chemotherapy treatments. There are some other good websites out there as well: cancergrace.org (it was formerly known as onctalk.com) is a site where you can ask reputable doctors questions and they will give you their honest opinions to just about anything you ask. I lived by this website when my dad was first diagnosed. Another good site is
http://www.inspire.com/groups/lung-cancer-alliance-survivors. This is more of a support website. I have made numerous friends from the lung cancer alliance. Everyone on the site is either a non-small cell or small cell lung cancer patient, caregiver or family member. It has also been invaluable to me! Best of luck to you and your mom.

Cheryl

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