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Thread: Don't risks seem to outweigh benefits of chemo?

  1. #1

    Don't risks seem to outweigh benefits of chemo?

    Asking this on behalf of a cousin - female, 60 years, diabetic on pills, diagnosed with lung cancer, resident of Canada (doesn't have internet access), former smoker since teens (approx 30 years), quit approx 10 years or so ago. I do not know if the cause of her lung cancer is a direct result of smoking.

    Approx 1 year ago suffered with pnuemonia, duing which a mass was discovered on one lung. After further investigation, discovered to be early stage II lung cancer (I do not know if small or non-small cell).

    She underwent surgery to completely remove one lung in October, then suffered with recurrent infection at the incision until late December, and struggled to control the diabetes during this time.

    Doctor has said that she is cancer free - all the cancer was removed during surgery - and through a scan there appears to be no sign of any metastasis to lymph nodes or any other part of body.

    Oncologist has given option for preventative chemotherapy - 3 days at a time of injection, then a wait period of 17 days before the next set of injections (drug type unknown). This would be done 4 times.

    Doc has given no guarantee that the chemo will prevent the cancer from recurring in a few months / year.
    Risks - besides the usual hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, there could be hearing loss (supposedly temporary), out of control diabetes sugar levels probably needing insulin injections, no immunity resulting in a high possibility of a variety of infections. and possible hospitalization throughout the entire process due to the infections/diabetes.

    She is really anxious about taking the treatment if the risks are so high, with no guarantee, yet wants to reduce the possibility of recurrence.

    Has anyone with this type of diagnosis undergone this type of treatment? Anyone feel that the benefits outweigh the risks?

    Also, Doc has said that chemo isn't given once 4 months after surgery has passed - any idea why?

  2. #2
    Senior User
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    You might want to consider PSK or one of the other asian mushroom extracts as well as melatonin. These are used alone or in conjunction with chemo. If taken with chemo, they seem to lower the side effects. Also have a look at melatonin. All of these have a very low side-effect profile (unlike chemo) and are known to enhance the immune system.

    You are correct in being concerned about the diabetes and infections. Sometimes these serious conditions are given less attention than they deserve because of the overwhelming concern of cancer.

    I also believe you should seek a second opinion.


  3. #3
    Thanks Mike - will pass along your suggestions to my cousin.

    A comment on the 2nd opinion. A good suggestion if it were something that was feasible for my cousing to pursue.

    In the province that we reside in - there are only 2 Cancer Clinics - one in each of the 2 major cities. The one that my cousin is going to is one of the best in the country, a research facility, and is known to be better than the other center in the province.

    Our treatments are fully paid for (thanks to our Medicare System), and traveling to another province (or to the states) is financially unfeasible for my cousin (cost of travel, and cost of health care in the other provinces).

    But thanks for the suggestion.

  4. #4
    Experienced User
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Shelby Twp., Michigan

    There is an injection available to help boost white blood cell count , thus the immune system. It is called Neulasta. I don't know whether this can be given to your cousin or not, may want to ask drs. if decide on chemo treatments. My thoughts are with you both.

    God bless and be well,
    Dx 3-17-05,breast cancer
    40 yrs young, Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, 2.5cm
    ER+/PR+, Her-2/neu Negative, Grade and Stage 2
    1 Sentinel node pos. 17 neg., chemo AC/Taxol ,

  5. #5
    Possibly talk to the doctor about other Chemo meds with less side effects. There are several out there. I know that my father was on a combination of Taxol and Carboplatin (sp?) I think that was the combo and there was less risk of side effects with those meds. There was no hair loss with those and they were given in a smaller dose once a week instead of a major dose every 3 weeks. Just have her discuss it with her doctor. These meds may not work for her, but there may be other options for her.

    But, my opinion in her case with only a Stage II and having had it removed I think the Chemo is a great way to go to hopefully get a cure out of it! Without it, it could come back. Of course, this is only my meager opinion. My Father is Stage IV and doing Chemo and it only to give him a little longer we have been advised.

    If she can't handle it - she can always discuss it with her doctors - they have many meds to help with the side effects now. But, of course this is her decision and she and only she can know what she feels comfortable doing.


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