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Here for my dad . . .


KathyC

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Hello - My dad was recently diagnosed with NSCLC in his right lower lobe and one lymph node.  He is 81 and looks much younger and lives independently.  He has been smoking for 66 yrs and has severe COPD, emphysema and asbestosis.  He has been for his first oncology appt and the dr is suggesting chemo/radiation at the same time.  Said he would start with radiation/end with radiation and do chemo once a week for six weeks while doing the radiation.  

i asked the dr if he was sure he was a candidate and he said he was.  The also did the Quadrant 360 bloodwork to see if he is a candidate for immunotherapy.  My dad said he is ready to do whatever it takes.  He has an MRI of the brain tomorrow and sees the oncologist on Thursday for his plan and the radiation/oncologist on Monday.

Looking for some insight on what I might expect for him.  I told him if at any point he doesn't want to continue with treatment all he needs to do is say so.  He said he is going to finish the treatment.

Thanks,

Kathy

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Hi, Kathy, and welcome. I'm guessing that how your dad makes out with this treatment depends a lot on his other lung conditions. Chemo/radiation is a standard treatment for those who aren't candidates for surgery. Do you know the exact type of nsclc (most are adenocarcinoma or squamous cell)? Did the doctor say what chemo drugs he would receive? Many of us have been on the same drugs with different effects. Some people have severe side effects and have to change treatments; others have relatively mild side effects. I mostly suffered from fatigue (especially the first few days after an infusion) and a bit of "brain fog." There are medications to manage many side effects so they are tolerable. I've never had radiation but many people who do complain of fatigue, loss of appetite, sometimes difficulty swallowing (especially if the radiation hits the esophagus). Most side effects disappear after treatment.

Lungevity has some great educational materials, including information about different types of treatment: https://www.lungevity.org/for-patients-caregivers.  

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Kathy,

Welcome here.

Insight? We've had some distinguished members do very well in treatment. From your description, it sounds like your dad will have first line standard of care treatment. Radiation takes the lead in this treatment and represents the cancer "killing" portion of the treatment. Adjuvant chemotherapy is used to sweep lymphatic and blood systems of circulating cancer cells. 

My tumor was confined to the main stem bronchus of my right lung. First line treatment (same as your dad's) "evaporated" that tumor and was successful enough to leave margins for removal of my right lung. My 6-weeks of radiation started out like a piece of cake but the fatigue effect of the treatment set in starting in week three. I slept a lot and by week for, I felt like by get-up-and-go departed. He'll likely need assistance getting from home to the treatment clinic and back in week 4 and beyond. I was 53 and I needed it.

I'm glad he is screening for immunotherapy suitability. This treatment can be very effective in producing NED (no evidence of disease) results.

Stay the course.

Tom

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Thank you both so much. He did say adenocarcinoma, and my dad is very reluctant to have any surgery due to his limited lung capacity. The cancer is in the lower right lobe of his lung and not a mass. The dr said it is flat like a disc and in the fibrosis.  We’ve all been through this before with my mom who died of breast cancer at 64. Because his lungs are compromised, I want quality of life for him over quantity and told him if at any point he wants to stop treatment that’s okay. Thank you again.

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I had the same chemo/radiation treatments before starting targeted therapy. Chest radiation can cause pneumonitis, which can exacerbate your dad's existing lung conditions. I would question the radiation oncologist about that possibility. In addition to immunotherapy, targeted therapy is also a potential treatment if the Guardant testing reveals a targetable gene mutation. 

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