Oncology (General Cancer)/Lung cancer

Advertisement


Question
My brother was diagnosed with lung cancer three months ago.  Since that time, he has lost 52 pounds (in three months!!) is very weak and frail.  He was told the cancer had invaded the aorta, mediastinum and probably the rib cage.  He is currently receiving radiation and chemotherapy, but seems to be failing very quickly.  However, his radiation oncologist claims there is 70% chance of cure!! I know a little  about cancer, having lost both parents to the disease and feel like he has been given false hope.  He has over the past week begun to seem very different as far as his personality, extremely emotional and just cries and refuses food.  I fear that he may actually have only a short time

Answer
Your radiation oncologist is wrong.  If this is lung cancer and it is invading those structures, it is stage IIIB assuming there are no other sites of involvement.  And if it is invading those structures, there is even a serious danger in giving radiation, since killing the the tumor that is invading the aorta could cause weakening and even rupturing of the aorta.  Also, if he's lost that much weight and is weak and frail, he may have reached the point where it doesn't make any sense to offer any treatment.  There are ways of predicting with a pretty good level of accuracy, how long a person has to live when they have cancer and from what you are saying, your brother doesn't have long.  Hope he doesn't suffer.  

Oncology (General Cancer)

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Donald Higby, M.D.

Expertise

I can answer almost all questions related to the treatment and natural course of most kinds of cancer, especially cancers of prostate, colon, lung and breast.

Experience

I have been a practicing medical oncologist for 36 years, and have been chief of service at a major medical center for 25 years. I've also done research in cancer treatments.

Organizations
American Society of Clinical Oncology

Publications
New England Journal of Medicine American Journal of Medicine Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Hematology Transfusion Medicine

Education/Credentials
MD, Stanford University Internal Medicine residency, St. Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO Medical Oncology Fellowship, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, NY

Awards and Honors
America's Best Physicians, last 14 years

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.