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Question
Posted by: Annie | 2011/08/18

Mom

My mom was very healthy until 6 months ago. She developed macular degeneration - went through many injections and catarach removal. A month after she had to have an urgent tripple heart bypass operation. During the operation they discovered a big cancer mass on her lung. She was a heavy smoker but stopped 9 yrs ago. They removed the mass and told us to wait for 6 weeks. Now they want to do a scan to see if there is any more cancer in her lungs. She is 73 yrs old. Should we let her go through with the scan just to hear if she has cancer or not? Should she go through with chemo after all she has been through so far? We unfortunately know how bad chemo and cancer in the lungs are. Shall we rather let she live her last few years until its time without any chemo etc.?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Heavy smoking, of course, makes lung cancer much more likely, and I think can also contribute to an increased risk of cataract and macular degeneration. The many years of smoking, sadly, have caught up with her. Though in most areas the risks start to drop when one stops smoking, they remain significantly higher than in non-smokers.
Generally, the scan should not be a particularly unpleasant procedure, and may provide useful information to help answer your other very reasonable questions. Once its done it's time for the doctors to sit down and have a calm discussion with her, with you and other close family present IF she wants this, to discuss the real situation - the spread or otherwise of the cancer, how it has responded to treatment so far, what further treatment options there are, their advantages and disadvanteges, and so on. It may indeed become a valid decision to no longer try for curative treatments if they are exceedingly unpleasant and unlikely to provide much benefit l but even then good plans should be made for a palliative specialist, from the cancer association or local hospice, to help plan for general care and symptom control.

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Our users say:
Posted by: Casey | 2011/08/19

My pleasure Annie, should you have any questions regarding what happens with a lung cancer sufferer, I will answer them as best I can.

Reply to Casey
Posted by: Annie | 2011/08/18

I want to thank Casey for her answer. You really helped me. This is hard and painful. Yes my mom wants to do everything to be better but she does not know how you die from lung cancer. It is terrible. I love her too much to make her go through something like that.

Reply to Annie
Posted by: Casey | 2011/08/18

I would like to help you based on my experience with my Mom. My Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in March of this year, it was a terrible shock to the family, afterall she was only 69 years old, also a heavy smoker, she also had to go again for a scan to see if the cancer had spread to her other organs as her lung cancer was inoperable and there was nothing that could be done, chemo was not even given as an option...but we sat down and spoke about it, I asked her, Mom do you really want to know more or is just knowing you have lung cancer enough. She decided she didn''t want to know more, she said she would feel if the cancer was spreading...she was very in touch with her own body, so we left it and didn''t go for another scan, through the months she lost weight, went off her food and sadly my Mom passed away on the 15 July 2011, she went through much pain and chemo would have just made it worse. We had my Mom with hospice, they are very very good, they help with supportive medication such as morphine etc, they also give counciling to family members. My advice to you is to get her registered with hospice and take it from there. Strength to you, the road you are on is a hard one. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Casey

Reply to Casey
Posted by: Maria | 2011/08/18

Is she incapable of making these decisions for herself? Because it sounds as if you want to make decisions for her. I would say go for the scan, it''s always better to know the truth, bad as it may be, than to live with uncertainty.

Reply to Maria
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/08/18

Heavy smoking, of course, makes lung cancer much more likely, and I think can also contribute to an increased risk of cataract and macular degeneration. The many years of smoking, sadly, have caught up with her. Though in most areas the risks start to drop when one stops smoking, they remain significantly higher than in non-smokers.
Generally, the scan should not be a particularly unpleasant procedure, and may provide useful information to help answer your other very reasonable questions. Once its done it's time for the doctors to sit down and have a calm discussion with her, with you and other close family present IF she wants this, to discuss the real situation - the spread or otherwise of the cancer, how it has responded to treatment so far, what further treatment options there are, their advantages and disadvanteges, and so on. It may indeed become a valid decision to no longer try for curative treatments if they are exceedingly unpleasant and unlikely to provide much benefit l but even then good plans should be made for a palliative specialist, from the cancer association or local hospice, to help plan for general care and symptom control.

Reply to cybershrink

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