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Want information about possible brain involvement from nsclc.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2010

My mother was diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in 2001 and had her right lower lobe removed. The doctors said there was no need for chemo or radiation afterward. Well, one and a half years ago they said it came back and was in both lungs, yet very small. No real treatment was administered because she is elderly and has congestive heart failure to. All of a sudden her memory has completely failed her. She seems weaker and leans to the right side when sitting down. She repeats over and over and over again: "Help me" or "Where am I" or Why am I here" at night she tells me she is scared. This is a woman that has been very independent and lived alone most of her life. Has anyone seen or experienced this before? How long do I expect her to suffer like this, before the end?

Thank you so much,

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

It is not uncommon for NSCLC to migrate to the brain. When squamous cell carcinoma (a non-small cell cancer) showed up in my lung following a previous bout with head/neck cancer, one of the first things they did was a brain MRI.

I can advise you first that upon my release from the hospital for the self-same lobectomy as your mom, I was almost immediately put on a chemotherapy regimen for many months. In defense of mom's docs, my instance occured six years after your mom's: things change nearly daily in the cancer world.

In further defense of your mom's docs, they have to consider a number of factors beyond the cancer itself, including her age and her ability to survive treatment (including surgery). They apparently decided that mom would not be a good candidate for 'real treatment', as you put it.

As for the main point of your message, yes, I have seen it before. My mom eventually died of cancer that had metastasized to her brain. Even so, she lived for quite some time, and lived rather well for most of that time, well enough that the first two times my dad called to tell me I needed to hurry down to Texas because mom was leaving us, I went and she was waiting for me next to the pool.

My dad claimed that my coming rejuvenated her, but I don't know. I do know that the third time I went she was on a gurney in the den (hospice, which I recommend), not cognizant, in a coma.

Mom may live for quite some time, to be honest. She may drift in and out and be distinctly functional for days and days. But mom is probably leaving soon, as you seem to acknowledge.

Spend as much time as you can with her. Even in the midst of whatever the cancer is doing, she knows you are there, now, anyway.

Best wishes to mom and her family.

Take care,


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