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Thread: stage 3a lung cancer...what treatment if any?

  1. #1

    stage 3a lung cancer...what treatment if any?

    my mom, 78, is just diagnosed with stage 3a non operable non small cell lung cancer and is in excellent health and very strong. Diagnosis was a complete shock. The doctors talk of a 1/3 shrinking tumors, 1/3 staying stagnant and a 1/3 of these tumors will grow if she takes chemo of carboplatin and gemcitibin together. I am afraid of the side effects being a catalyst to making her very ill. They do not say the time in months or years that she has to live and even talk of curing the cancer. Am I being told the truth or not. I need the truth because all the research I am reading is that stage 3a lung cancer should be palliative and not for cure?

    I need help from those of you who have experienced this kind of cancer and what they were told from their practitioners....

    Does everyone fight the cancer? Or do people choose not to and still have quality of their life?

    Is cancer treatment for this lung cancer still being experimented? Radiation was recommended by one doctor in addition and not by another...where do I turn for an honest answer?

  2. #2
    Senior User
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    Hi Hanksta,
    First off, if your mom is in good health why do they say it is non operable? Many 3a staged people's cancer can be resected after a course of chemo and/or radiation. All depends on the location and size of the primary tumor, type of cancer and location of lymph nodes involved.
    My husband is straddling a 2b/3a stage, next week we should know the pathology of biopsied lymph nodes they took from a mediastinoscopy. We were told by the surgeon that if a 2b, surgery would be the only treatment, no chemo. If it turns out a 3a, then a course of chemo/radiation will hopefully "downsize" the stage to a 2b thus making surgery possible.
    My opinion(only an opinion), after extensive research and talks with oncologists, is that a 3a stage is far from "pallative". Options do exist if the patient has no other underlying medical problems that prevent them from being performed.
    Everyone's scenario is a bit different, that is why there is no "one size fits all" answer as far as treatment goes. You should educate yourself as much as possible(knowledge is power) and then write down all your questions and concerns to have the doctors address.
    I am sure others from this site can fill you in further.
    Good luck
    Onecoyote
    Goodluck

  3. #3
    Moderator Top User
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    Hello Hanksta;
    When you get a chance, get a second opinion on her condition.
    I found that for me the second opinion gave me more understanding of my condition and more confidence in my doctors.
    God Bless
    Dan
    57 year old male, Diagnosed Nov. 9,2007 with NSCLC IV with Mets to the lymph's and brain and now my pancreas (9/1/11)
    Had full brain radiation treatment in Jan 08 treatments now every 3 weeks with Alimta, stopped taking Lovenox for clots, working full time
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9993

  4. #4
    thx to all of you. The surgery was not recommended because of where it lies in her lung. while researching the two chemo drugs on the internet there was strong suggestion that these two drugs are used in palliative - the doctor will not say anything about her condition other than her chances to live 5 years are definitely not going to happen. here in Quebec decisions are made by a tumour team of doctors with regards to her therapy and not just by one - however I did manage a second opinion but we will be getting that apointment after she has started treatment. The waits here are impossible however, if a patient is in trouble, as my mother, then the system works quickly: except getting second opinions becomes hard.

    My personal fear is that 'it isn't the cancer that kills you - it's the treatment' that most people seem to say is the hardest part. We also were never told that treatment could shrink it to size for surgery - that is something i am going to bring up with the doctor.

  5. #5
    Moderator Top User
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    Hi Hanksta;
    I see you are doing the best you can under the circumstance of living in Canada. Here my insurance allowed me to go from Hawaii to Seattle, Washington for a 2nd opinion. Your on a ride no one wants to be on but come here and share it and we can walk along side you through it.
    God Bless
    Dan
    57 year old male, Diagnosed Nov. 9,2007 with NSCLC IV with Mets to the lymph's and brain and now my pancreas (9/1/11)
    Had full brain radiation treatment in Jan 08 treatments now every 3 weeks with Alimta, stopped taking Lovenox for clots, working full time
    http://cancerforums.net/viewtopic.php?t=9993

  6. #6
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    Bill had a mask for WBR and stereotactic radiation. Hope you get some answers soon.
    As long as there is Life, there is Hope.

    Husband (44) with LC, mets to brain, lymph nodes and bones. Received Carbo/Taxol, currently in a clinical trail. Had WBR, stereotactic radiation to brain

  7. #7
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    My mom has stage III or IV NSCLC. She has a nodule in her left lung alone with one or two lymph nodes possibly involved (I have seen her original CT scan.). She does not want to know the actual staging. The onc said he would not recommend surgery because it would diminish her lung capacity. My mom has had some aggressive therapy. She's had four rounds of Carboplatin/Taxol/avastin. She is getting ready to have anothr CTscan on Sept. 8th. The onc is thinking continuing with the Avastin only and possibly doing some radiation. We will discuss after the scan on the 8th.

    Kristi
    Dad - Andy, 70, diagnosed with SCLC in May 2008
    2/20/38 - 10/15/08 Fly high, Dad!
    Mom - Jackie, 68, diagnosed with NSCLC in May 2008
    3/22/41 - 12/30/09 Fly high, Mom!

  8. #8
    Top User maryaz's Avatar
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    Hi hanksta, You should learn as much as you can so that you can make an educated decision.. My husband was staged 3B and had surgery NSCLC Squamous Cell Carcinoma. The link is at the bottom of my post to read about his treatment and surgery. I just posted part of this under another thread where it was applicable and so just copying part for here.

    He had very aggressive chemo and radiation. Personally, I felt, afterward that it was why he had the opportunity to have the surgery. Surgery in the beginning was not a definite option. We feel the radiation was the biggy for shrinking the tumor.

    His cancer was determined by a needle biopsy done January 10th. They insert this thru the back. In doing the bronchoscope, they could not get enough for a biopsy. His treatments started February 25th and then the last was first part of April. Surgery was May 16th.

    I believe the tumor had to shrink to a certain point and cancer limited as shown on Pet Scan before surgery could happen. Afterward surgeon had got the tumor and all the lymph nodes that were removed had dead cancer cells except one. We just hope the one is all the further it went. 2 CTscans have so far shown no cancer. Without surgery, he would still have had the cancer growing.

    Everyone is different in some ways. That applies to many diseases. Numbers are not always the primary thing to go by. I was told right up front on another board that Stage 3B does not get surgery and that once staged, a stage cannot be changed. Right or wrong, that became an unimportant issue with me when I saw what my husband got for treatment.

    I would want to sit down and find out exactly what the doctors think. I have learned that we have to be aggressive sometimes in getting answers. Healthcare all over is lacking nowdays.

    I found it very difficult to make decisions on things when your life is in a turmoil and also you are not well versed on what is being discussed. I can look back now and I know so much more than I did in even April. In the beginning, you just don't realize what all is happening.

    Best of luck to you. One more thing, the doctor that indicated she would not live for 5 years really doesn't know that. No one really knows for sure.
    Husband (year of birth 1941) dx'd 2008 NSCLC - Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    Chemo and Radiation Treatments together. Allergic reaction to Taxol & Taxotere.
    The Story 2008 to 1/2011: http://www.cancerforums.net/about9079.html

    2010/2011: Returned & spread to lower lumbar bone/marrow. Stage 4.
    Chemo & Radiation together. Allergic reaction to Erbitux. Chemo was only Navelbine.
    The Story continues 2/2011: Story continues 2/2011: http://tinyurl.com/68qpmym

  9. #9
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    Stage IIIa is a lot different from Stage IIIb.

    It means that either the tumor is small enough or that the involvement is only on one side of the lungs and that the lymph nodes are involved.

    Once the lymph nodes are involved the chances of the cancer spreading goes up (as opposed to non-lymph node involvement.)

    She probably has a really good chance of beating this primary cancer, but as they may have told you, lung cancer is not "curable' past stage III. You can get more time--possibly a lot of time--measured in years, not months.

    The chemo will make her very sick. From what I have been able to discern, once it is in the lymph nodes, surgery does not really give you an edge and can disable you more because it is a rough surgery to go through.

    Second opinions are great. Best case scenario is that chemo and radiation would put this cancer into remission and she would have many years of quality life ahead of her. Always hope for the best!

  10. #10
    Top User maryaz's Avatar
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    Ckim: You seem to have more information than I had. I am confused now. This person was told that they definitely would not see 5 years survival. You said if treatment worked would have many years of quality life ahead.

    You said ". . also surgery does not really give you an edge . . ." I have to disagree with your surgery statement. On a personal level for me and for some others that I know had the surgery it gave back a life and that is more than Ďan edge'. I really don't agree with you. I realize my husband's cancer could show up any day but already we have gained from the surgery. These are the lives of our loved ones. We cannot gamble with them.
    Husband (year of birth 1941) dx'd 2008 NSCLC - Squamous Cell Carcinoma
    Chemo and Radiation Treatments together. Allergic reaction to Taxol & Taxotere.
    The Story 2008 to 1/2011: http://www.cancerforums.net/about9079.html

    2010/2011: Returned & spread to lower lumbar bone/marrow. Stage 4.
    Chemo & Radiation together. Allergic reaction to Erbitux. Chemo was only Navelbine.
    The Story continues 2/2011: Story continues 2/2011: http://tinyurl.com/68qpmym

 
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