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My 83-year-old father has nsclc


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My 83-year-old father was diagnosed with nsclc, stage IV, in March, 2008. He has mets to the lymph node and brain. He had 13 sessions of radiation therapy on the brain in April. He started chemo in May. He had 3 cycles of chemo (a combination of carboplatin and gemcitabine) from May to June. He had a CT scan in July. The result wasn't good or bad. His oncologist said the tumor in the lung had no noticeable change (he said it probably had increased about 0.4 mm) and one really small spot on the liver (almost the size of a needle point). The doctor decided to treat my father with Taxol, which is stronger than GemCarbo. My father had Taxol on July 29. Right after Taxol was given, he was feeling okay. But since a week later, he has been feeling light-headed. He fell down several times because he felt dizzy (esp., when he gets up from the bed). Also, coughing gets worse now. He has been eating relatively well, but seems weaker and weaker these days. We talked with his oncologist, but couldn't get a good answer. We are considering stopping chemo and starting nutrituional therapy, such as AHCC, Avemar, etc. He has been taking AHCC for about a month as a supplement. My father had been healthy and strong before and endured chemo pretty well.

We really don't know what to choose or do. The doctor isn't very helpful about this matter. I have a few questions:

(1) Is there anybody who had a similar experience with Taxol?

(2) What would you recommend? Do you think my father should keep doing chemo? Some people say that since my father is very old, cancer won't spread quickly and that chemo will do more harm than good.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much.

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Hi there. I am sorry you had the need to post here but you will find lots of good information and many many supportive people. I can't help you with your direct questions but hopefully others will come along soon that will. It sounds like your dad has done fairly well so far but at some point there are choices to be made that aren't necessarily age based. And those choices are really his to make and your family's to support. He seems to have done well on chemo so far so maybe a different chemo regimen will help. I don't think the spread of cancer has anything to do with age but I could be wrong. Best wishes to you, your dad and family with your upcoming decisions. Please keep us posted on how your dad is doing.


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Hello, and welcome, but sorry that you are here due to your father having been diagnosed, and that you are worried. I can relate with that feeling. That was me when Bill was diagnosed. Lung cancer can be a roller coaster ride, as many have discovered.

Although my husband, with the help of God, will be celebrating his 78th birthday this October, he has experienced four chemo regimens over a period of more than 3 years plus.

I tell this concerning the treatments because he was deemed stage IIIB/IV during the first year following his initial diagnosis.

He had a brain met, had lymph involvement, had bone mets, and he presently is doing fine. Right now, he is in remission. How long will that last? We do not know, nor do we expect a cure, but we do hope for treatment that will hold it at stable or better.

Every day of the past three years, eight months have been a blessing. We followed the advice of a wonderful lung cancer advocate who lived for more than five years with his cancer. While he lived, he helped many to realize that hope should always be part of the equation. Since hope can consist of many avenues, we hold it dearly.

May your Dad find treatments that are helpful, and may you be comforted in your concerns. You have certainly come to a wonderful place to share. Here, there is a bounty of support and information.


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My father had Taxol on July 29. Right after Taxol was given, he was feeling okay. But since a week later, he has been feeling light-headed. He fell down several times because he felt dizzy (esp., when he gets up from the bed).

I developed a similar symptom about midway through my 6-cycle Taxol/Carboplatin program. I never fell, but did feel light-headed and a bit wobbly anytime I stood up from a sitting or prone position. This would last maybe a minute, then I'd be okay. I first suspected a blood pressure or circulation problem causing the brain to be temporarily deprived of sufficient oxygen-rich blood when I first stood, but my onc didn't detect any deficiencies in blood pressure or circulation and felt it was probably a cumulative side effect of the chemo. Though your father started the Taxol just a month ago, he did have other chemos before that, and it all adds up. After I finished the Taxol/Carboplatin program, this problem went away and didn't recur during my 8 months of Avastin alone and hasn't happened during my 11 months on Tarceva.

About your second question, I'm not aware that age has any effect on the rate that cancer might spread, but I can say that with most cancer patients there will come a time when chemo does more harm than good. Exactly when that point is reached depends on age, general health, the aggressiveness of the cancer, and other factors -- some of them very personal and subjective. If you suspect that point is getting close, the best approach might be to tell your dad the decision to continue or stop treatment is his to make, and you will support his decision completely. There's no right or wrong here -- some people are determined to fight all the way no matter what, while others decide to stop treatment while they're still feeling well enough to take a long-awaited trip or tie up some loose ends. My Aloha,


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So sorry about your dad's diagnosis and that he is feeling so poorly right now.

You made a statement that you feel your doc isn't being very helpful - have you considered getting a second opinion?? That is your right to do and any good doctor should not mind you doing that. My original onc (who moved to Texas) actually encouraged all of his patients to get one - that way they would feel very comfortable that they were getting the best treatment plan put in place.

Whatever you decide, I am hoping and praying that he begins to feel better.


Patti B.

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