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Question about brain tumors - Please help!


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Hi all, i was wondering if anyone out there has any experience with mets to the brain. My (future) mother-in-law has a 4.8cm tumor that is causing her to be off balance, slur her words, babble senselessly at times, etc. We are worried to death about this. Her onc doesn't seem to be all that worried about it, but she seems to be going downhill by the day. She saw a specialist last week and he recommended whole head radiation, probably 12-14 treatments. She has Stage IV LC with several mets to the brain, and mets to adrenal gland. She is 72 and in very poor health. She gets very tired after being out for only an hour and walks very slow like she's in pain, but tells us that she is not. So we don't know if it's the tumor or not. My question is how do we know when we need to take her to the hospital? Her onc doesn't seem to think it's a big deal, but she almost died last year of another brain tumor and had to undergo emergency surgery. How can we be proactive in making sure this doesn't happen again? We feel so helpless. She saw her neurosurgeon last week also, and he pretty much said surgery wasn't an option because of her weakend state. How long will it take for the radiation to work before she gets better? No one seems to be able to give us any answers and its so frustrating!! :evil:

Please Help!

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HI Shamrock,

Sorry to hear about your future mom-in-law. I have no experience with brain mets, but have been reading up on them You also asked when to take your mom to the hospital? You should call her doctor and tell him about her symptoms and ask them to direct you.

You said the doctor suggested whole head radiation? This would also allow the chemo to enter the blood brain barrier and be effective in possible treatment. Several other treatments options to ask your doctor about are: Sterotactic Radiosurgery, which uses gamma rays or a linear accelerator; Gamma Knife, a precise focused beam; Cyberknife, which is less common (smaller doses) that moves around the head wth a robotic arm; also new, a procedure called the Peacock System (special computerized software that rotates around the head using a variation of the cyberknife; and even newer, Precision Therapy (just developed in Sweden), a radiosurgery that delivers a high precise dose that spares surrounding tissue.

I hope this helps.


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Cheryl is right with all of the other possiable treatments for brain mets.

My mom had many of the same symptoms you mentioned. We were told that depending where the tumors were located in the brain would cause certain symptoms. Example the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body.

Do I understand you right in that they have not started the treatments? My mom was started the day after her dx. The reason for her symptoms is the location of the tumors and I understand what you are saying about it getting worse. We had mom at the hospital several times because we did not know what was happening to her. One time she just needed 02.

It's important to remember the the doctors are employed by you (her). If the patient is too tired and week the need someone to act for them and ask the hard questions.

I will pray for you MIL to be and the rest of the family. Let me know if I can help anymore.

Hugs, Shelly

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Hi Shamrock,

My husband had whole head radiation because he had three known tumors in the brain that meted from the lung. the reason for whole head radiation is that there could be more in the brain not showing and the whole head can get to all of them.

at the present time there are none showing there now. should they find their way back, then the onc said the other day they will consider radio surgery for him.

reading a lot on this board will teach you many things you never knew or thought to ask the drs. this board is a tremendous help.

no one can tell you when to take your future mother-in-law to the hospital, that is something you all will have to decide. when in doubt go go go.....

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4.8 cm is pretty large, so I can see why she's having these distressing symptoms. I'm sorry you're having to go through this. As far as when to take her to the hospital, red flags would be a sudden change in her mental status (not responding when you talk to her, for example.) Choking on food, or anything that looks like a seizure are also red flags. I don't want to scare you; these things may never happen, (in fact, they probably won't), but forewarned is forearmed.

As usual, Cheryl's offered excellent information & suggested lots of good approaches to the problem that involve less radiation and fewer side effects than whole-brain radiation. Even if there are other "satellite" tumors in her brain, reducing the size of the big one might relieve some of her symptoms and improve quality of life for her.

Have the docs given you a prognosis? I'm wondering if they have suggested hospice care. Hospice means no more "curative" treatment, and you have to agree to a "do-not-resuscitate" order. Perhaps you aren't there; but keep it in mind if you & she reach that point.

Best wishes to all of you, Teresa

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