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Grandmother, 79, diagnosed with Stage IV


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Hey all, today I found out bad news that my grandmother has lung cancer at stage IV. She is 79 years old and looks really good, she just coughs regularly, but not a horrible cough. My grandmother has been out of surgery to remove a tumor on her lymph node near her aorta and she looks great, almost back to normal. The doctors gave her "months" to live but I have been reading on the board saying that some people actually live years, but then again they are not 79 years old. According to the doctor, the cancer spread to the thoracic region and outside it. She is going to have more scans and tests done, but those won't come in till the 22nd of December. Also, the doctors say that they will probably not do chemo because it will just prolong her life a few months.

I am just looking for support and help on this topic? What are the chances of a healthy 79 year old lady surviving through this? What are the pain consequences? Any other suggestions?

Thank you all for the support and help, it is much appreciated.


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Thank you for the reply Mr. Wood. May I ask how your wife is doing? I understand it is a very extensive procedure and I think the doctors want to take into consideration quality of life too.

Thanks again for the input, I hope your wife is battling strong!


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Thanks to all for the support. She has an appointment with the oncologist with bone test results on the 22nd of this month.

I was also wondering if "months" is what I should anticipate for my grandmother. As of now she looks very healthy, but with frequent coughs. Any other success stories for older folks on this board?

Also what does it mean when the doctor says the doctor spread outside of the thoracic region?

Thanks again for the support.


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Hello, glad you found the nice people on this board. I agree about getting a second opinion on some kind of treatment. My father is receiving IMRT a type of radiation that targets the tumor and spares surrounding tissue so side effects are minimal. He is having this done to his tumor and the mediastinal node. This has been put off right now due to whole brain radiation as they just found brain mets, but next week they will resume IMRT on his chest areas. He was doing very well.

He's 64, but due to having lymphoma and a stem cell transplant in the past, he cannot be blasted with chemo so this is a good option for him. He may need chemo after that and if so, they are going to use Gemzar. Ive copied and pasted some info here for you to ask about, not sure if its something that is for your grandmother but cant hurt to ask:

What is IMRT?

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) is a revolutionary type of external beam treatment that is able to conform radiation to the size, shape and location of a tumor.

How is IMRT different from other kinds of radiation treatment?

Although IMRT uses X-rays from linear accelerators just like other types of radiation treatment, it tries to treat non-uniformly so the target(s) get high doses and normal tissues are spared.

How does this impact me?

If normal tissues get less of a dose, the chances of side effects for the same dose to the cancer goes down. If the side effects are less, this means you can give the cancer more dose, which may lead to better control.

What cancers can be treated by IMRT?

Theoretically, all cancer can be treated by IMRT, but realistically we treat cancers where we want to protect adjacent tissues and their formation.

Will this treatment be covered by my insurance?

Many companies fully cover this type of treatment but you or your doctor should make sure. Medicad does not cover all tumors for treatment by IMRT.

Can you treat lung cancer by IMRT?

Yes, but you need to make sure that the tumor stays where you planned it. This is done by getting the accelerator to deliver doses only at action motions of the breathing cycle.

Does IMRT cost the same as non-IMRT radiation?

No, IMRT is highly technical and physician-intensive. Because of this, the costs are higher than more conventional radiation treatments.

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I would definitely get a second opinion as far as the chemo. My brother was given 2 months to live when he was first diagnosed. It has been 4 months and he is doing fairly well. He has been hospitalized a few times for high fevers and pneumonia since his diagnosis though.

When he was first diagnosed they told him they were not going to do chemo because he was so sick. My sister-in-law insisted and had to be very firm about it. In fact she demanded it and would not take no for an answer - she had to get a lot of people involved.

He has had 6 chemo treatments and he has gone past the 2 months and has enjoyed spending precious time with his grandaughter and was able to be with her at her first birthday celebration and her baptism.

We are so grateful to God that he has given him extra time. I think the chemo definitley helped him.

Hoping and praying that your grandmother continues to feel well.

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Thank you all for the support, I will relay the information to my mom so my grandmother can have another opinion. I have one more question though. What is the difference from stage III and IV? I believe the doctors only know about cancer spreading to the lymph nodes, so does this automatically make it stage IV?

Thank you all, and Happy Holidays


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When my father was first diagnosed he was Stage IIIa; which meant along with his lung tumor he had a node in the mediastinum affected. But he was restaged to IIIb when they found a supraclavicular node because this means the cancer moved out of the lung. Stage IV is when it is in an organ.

Keep us posted so we can help you.

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I'm glad your grandmother is otherwise well and strong. Find out how hard she wants to fight, whether she's willing to try to put up with the possible side effects from chemo. If she's willing, you should be able to find an oncologist who is supportive of her wishes.

In the meantime, cherish her each and every day.

None of us knows, cancer aside, how long we'll be here.

At least we've been given a heads up to appreciate the little blessings.

God bless you and all of us,


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