My 70 year old non-smoking mother has just been dx'd with stage IV NSCLC - specifically squamous cell carcinoma. She had anal cancer just over a year ago, so they believe it spread from that, even though they told her at the time that they thought they got it all. I have lots of questions, but the burning one at the moment is this: given that she finished radiation from her first cancer dx in Dec 05 (she also had chemo but had such a bad reaction they had to stop), and went back for follow up at 3 months and 6 months (what do they do at a follow up anyway?), then in Sep 06 came down with a cough that never went away, and now drs are saying she's got a silver dollar sized tumor on left lung, as well as spread to lymph nodes in neck, my question is, can cancer really spread that quickly so that they wouldn't have caught it not 3 months before she came down with symptoms? That seems outrageous to me. The doctor even said that in primary lung cancer, a tumor that size would take 10 years to develop. Granted this isn't primary, but still. I feel like it should have been caught before. We are going to the oncologist tomorrow morning, and from everything I've read, it sounds like he's going to tell her it's terminal. Especially since she can't tolerate chemo, or at least, the chemo drugs she was given last year. I know there are many different kinds. I also know at this stage, chemo is really given as palliative treatment, not meant as a cure. I have to say, I was quite surprised reading over the posts here, how many stage 4 people seem to have survived for quite a while, and that did give me some hope.
Thanks for listening, and any advice on whether I should pursue why this wasn't caught earlier.
First I am so sorry that your mom has to go through this as well as you do also.Yes you are your Moms advocate and you deserve answers.You also said she has had follow ups. I do know that when my husband has a follow up it is every three months. PET scan three months later CT scan and three months after that a chest X ray all of these follow ups include labs.Then the cycle starts all over again.We had a problem in Jan when his PET scan showed something and the lab that did the PET scan said he should have a cT scan to see what it was.Our ONC didn't think it was needed because all of his bloodwork showed no cancer but I fought for a CT scan and we got it and the ONC was right everything was clean but what happenes if it wasn't that was my nagging question. So ask the doctors what did they do for your Moms follow ups. You say you Mom cannot take anymore Chemo so ask the ONC what else can they do and don't take nothing as an answer. They have other types of Chemo your mom might be able to take and they also have other drugs that work on Lung cancer.
Prayers to you both
JM, I am not really sure on how to answer you about how fast the cancer can grow. When my mom was diagnosed NSCLC Stage IV I was talking to a few doctors at work ( most of them pulmonary doctors) and they said that adenocarcinoma is slow growing and she probably had it for the past 10-12 years.
That being said My mom did have a CT done 4 years before learning she had lung cancer as she had been getting short of breath and all pulmonary and cardiac tests came back negative so a CT was done to make sure she did not have a pulmonary embolism. That CT was clear there was not a sign of anything wrong ( and it was even reviewed after she learned she had cancer and there is not a sign of the cancer on it) four years later she has a CT and learns there is a 7 CM tumor in her right middle lobe of her lungs and already mets to the liver. Makes me believe two things cancer may not be as slow growing as they think it is and that there must be alot of changes at the cellular level happening that we can not as of yet pick up on before the actual tumor develops as that could explain my mom's unexplained shortness of breath. My mom's oncologist on the other hand did not find it strange that she could go from a clean CT to what she did in 4 yrs time. Very different view then the pulmonary docs I work with.
My mom decided to fight the cancer and did not regret her choice as it gave her two more holiday seansons, family birthdays, birth of a great grandchild, graduation of a much love grandson and many other happy moments. She died in November 2006 and I am so proud to know that she did fight the cancer so she would have more time with us which she did get. It is all such a personal choice as to if you want the pallitive treatment in light of being told we can not offer you a cure. I will add your mom to my prayers as I really believe they can help. JanMarie
Sorry to hear about your mom. I don't know enough about the type of cancer your mom has, but with my husband's cancer it did not even show on lung x-rays that were taken in April 05 and then diagnosed with Stage IV SCLC the first week in June 05.
I have read though (not sure where) that when cancer spreads in the body it can "hide" and then just sorta jumps out and shows up on the scans. Cancer is a mystery in so many ways so it is hard to know.
I do hope your mom gets some quality.
My husband was sent for an x ray when he spit up a tiny amout of blood.After the xray he was called in by the tech and said they were going to do a ct scan because they saw a large mass in his right lung. They did the Ct scan right away and it also confirmed a 10 cm mass.What a shock for a non smoker.He was diag with non small cell Squamious LC and we were told it must have been growing for several years. He did have an X ray 5 years prior in Ca where we use to live so we called our old GP and he reviewed it again and said it showed nothing he then sent it to our pulmonay doc and he also said he saw nothing. It was hard to diag my husband since he has had asthma all of his life and was always treated for that. I believe if he did not have asthma he would have been diag sooner.We were lucky though since the tumor was all encased and there was no lymph nodes involved. I really cannot blame any of my husbands doctors since they all were treating his asthma and was not a smoker.