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Small cell lung cancer = Roadrunner cartoon

utilitarian_me's picture
Posts: 7
Joined: Dec 2009

And I feel like we're Wylie Coyote who keeps getting outsmarted at every turn.

My mom (age 76) was diagnosed last spring (April 1, 2009) with SMLC. She was scheduled for 3 rounds of Cisplatin & Etoposide but was hypersensitive and ended up in the hospital with an infection and low blood count (she had no white blood cells). Scan showed that there was marked decrease in lung tumor size but met to brain. Chemo was discontinued after two rounds and targeted radiation was begun (funky mask sits in a place of honor in her living room)and in September scans showed no sign of cancer. October was time for yearly mamo - of course the results were suspect. further testing...sonogram (inconclusive)... Breast Biopsy 12/18 and 3 month scan 12/22. Results given by Oncologist 12/29--scar tissue in the breasts from lumpectomy 20+ years ago and 5 tumors on her kidneys. Doctor stated that the "Tumors are most likely cancerous". Now chemo (topotecan) 1/week for ? weeks - scan at 8 weeks is being recommended.

She's been told statistically without treatment 3-6 months to live. With treatment, maybe 6-12 months. If she opts for no chemo, the doctor recommended calling in hospice asap. Currently she is symptom free of kidney problems. The radiation burned her esophagus and made swallowing painful, her hearing is all but destroyed, she has some short term memory loss, her equilibrium is slow to recover and her stamina is diminished, but otherwise she seems to be doing well. I guess that is what makes the diagnosis so hard to believe- even though we were warned it was a likely scenario.

I've told her that I'll support either decision, but that selfishly, I'd like her to be around as long as possible as long as we're not prolonging suffering.

Does anyone have experience with Topotecan use on kidney tumors? What quality of life can we "expect" after treatment if successful? If she "opts out", how aggressive is small cell cancer met'd to the kidneys? How does one prepare to be of help? What other questions should we be asking?

Reading the trials & triumphs on this board has been inspiring--thank you.


soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

You might strongly consider inserting this post in the Kidney Cancer board as well, UM.

Best wishes to mom and her family. (Wile E. ALWAYS manages to get back up to fight another day :)).

Take care,


utilitarian_me's picture
Posts: 7
Joined: Dec 2009

Thanks Joe. I'm counting on that Wyle E. imagery to get me through a bunch o' fights.
The doc's insistence that small cell lung cancer anywhere is still "small cell lung cancer" made me hesitate to post on the kidney board, but I'll do just that. I appreciate your guidance and many of your encouraging & informative posts.
Happy New Year! Hope its the best ever!


Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2009


Has your mom started topotecan? How is everything going? My mom starts on Monday. :( Any help/information is apprecited.

God Bless,


Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2010

My mom was just told this week that her small cell lung cancer that also met to the liver has returned - she had been diagnosed in July 2009, started chemo immediately, and her Dec pet scan showed NO signs of active cancer and we were able to enjoy a wonderful, joyful, thankful holiday season. They moved forward with 15 days of brain radiation as a preemptive measure. Several weeks of troubles breathing led her to get another Pet scan (and was going to get a bronchioscopy but her primary kept putting it off) and it shows the cancer has returned much as it was before the original chemo. She started on topotekan intraveneously today and is expected to get about 8 treatments.

I would love to get some feedback on the drug. While her oncologist said this is not curative, they said this could help slow the progress of the tumors. Her doctors suggested we get her admitted into the local hospice program because they could help defer the $450/treatment co-pay and help make sure she gets the help she needs. Her oncologist and chemo nurse said that this could help, but her primary seems to have written her off. Any evidence out there or hope that we might enjoy another Christmas with Mom????

Thank you.

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