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Chemo question Stage 4 Squamous


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A family friend has been diagnosed with metastatic squamous cell lung cancer.  A small lung lesion and extensive lymph activity per PET scan.  She's getting a series of chemo sessions and expects to be on immunotherapy thereafter. 

She believes one of her doctors said they would cure her.  It seems everyone around her is counting on the chemo to eradicate the cancer.

I can't find any articles that support this. It sounds like Stage 4 lung cancer is treatable but not curable. I understand newer meds allow some who have advanced lung cancer to live much longer than before and to treat their cancer as a chronic illness. But I can't find any professionals that speak of a cure by chemo.

 Is my understanding correct, that the 4-6 rounds of chemo will decrease the cancer in her body but not eliminate it? 

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The word cure is not often used when it comes to Stage 4 Lung Cancer.  NED (no evidence of disease) is usually the goal.  In order to say there is a cure for something the treatment needs to reliably result in that disease being eradicated in the patient.  Chemo and immunotherapy are usually used as a treatment to prolong life, not a cure.  There are LOTS of advancements in the treatment of Lung Cancer that do allow people to survive longer and treat their cancer like a chronic illness.  Hopefully a cure is not far behind.  


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Welcome here.

I'll expand on Curt's explanation.  We don't use the word cure in the lung cancer community.  That is because any form of lung cancer has a high probability of recurring after successful treatment.  I was diagnosed with Stage IIIB non small cell squamous cell lung cancer.  I had a total of 4 recurrences after successful treatments.  That is why we use the term no evidence of disease or NED as our goal for treatment.

Here is some information on lung cancer recurrence.

Four to six rounds of chemo may eliminate your friends lung cancer, it may decrease the tumor burden, or it could do nothing at all.  I'm hoping elimination is the outcome.

Stay the course.


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Curt and Tom,

I greatly appreciate your replies and Tom, your post on recurrence is very helpful. It is so meaningful to receive these explanations from you gentlemen in the trenches that I'm certain are knowledgeable.

Tom, your journey sounds incredible. When I have some time I hope to read more of your story within your posts. Oh, and I just learned that you blog! 

I learned today that our friend is receiving Keytruda concurrently with her chemo. 

Again, thank you both heaps!

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