My mom has been diagnosed with Stage 3b/4 nsclc and will begin radiation and chemo immediately. She also has pleural effusion and the doctors are taking out the chest tube and inserting a catheter. I am hopeful to shrink the cancer enough to get her airways unblocked and she can leave the hospital. I keep getting the feeling the doctors don't want to tell me how bad this is. I myself am preparing for the worse, but i would like to know what your opinion is. Thanks,
Your concerns are valid. Lung cancer is afterall, the biggest cause of cancer mortality. For this post, I can only work with the stage information, your doctor likely has better estimates.
Much of the answer here depends on how much the disease is affecting her daily living. If she stays in bed most of her waking hours, then treatment may only make an impact on symptom improvement. If she is able to maintain a fairly active lifestyle – then treatment may help extend survival . The improvements are modest, largely a function of months. Average survival may only be around 9 to 12 months, but there are some patients (about 20%) who may reach the 2 year mark. This of course, is only a question of length of time. What is more important is that the goals of treatment would be to improve qualityof life. Hence, if the treatment seems to be making things much worse, then it would be time to change the treatment.
My wife was diagnosed with Stage IIIB NSCLC and was given ~7mos in Dec 2006. We are 28 Months down the road and have been through Tarceva, carboplatin/paclitaxel/avastin, a phase II trial and are setting off on the next stage. I think there are too many variables to give one answer, but the thing that has made a difference is good morale and a willingness to wage absolute war with the disease. We are not done yet and are going tomorrow to choose from an array of options, some of whom were not available 6 months ago. Not an answer but a comment on the reality of the fight, and that is what it is. It is not easy for anyone involved but the fight can bring you closer than you ever thought possible. Good luck and God Bless.
I completely agree with chiefpace. My mother was diagnosed last July with 3b/4 with plueral effusion. The fact that she has had plueral effusion with cancer cells in the fluid automatically increases the staging. She actually had to have a chest tube put in 2 times in 2 months. Her difficulty in breathing came from the pleural fluid which was basically collapsing her lung and not the tumor. A catheter was inserted for about two weeks (until the fluid emission levels were back to normal). The pulminologist then determined that he could perform a procedure that basically glued the lung and the lung lining back together with talcum powder of all things. She had 6 months of Avastin/Taxol/Carbo with minimal side effects and the tumor has shrunk. She is now on alimita and her SUV on the MRI has gone down again. You have to keep up hope and be determined to fight this disease!!! Having a positive attitude helps the person with the disease have hope. I thought when my mother was diagnosed that it was an immediate death sentence, especially after reading the statistics. I can only tell you that person is different and every situation is different. My mother and our family have chosen to be a family that is LIVING with cancer. Good luck and god bless!
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