Unfortunately, everyone reacts differently to chemo, so there isn't a simple answer to how sick it might make a specific individual. I suffered from neuropathy, but I didn't have a lot of nausea and related symptoms like so many others did. My worst side effect was severe foot, ankle and leg pain, which started 2 days after chemo and lasted a couple days. I did work through chemo -- other than days I took off for treatment, I only missed 2 days in the 18 weeks I had chemo (once every 3 weeks for 6 weeks). As far as looking for cancer after surgery instead of chemo, unless cancer cells are clustered together, they are not going to show up in most types of scans, and by that time, it could be a problem. I looked at chemo as mopping up any cells that might still be hanging around. I hope that information helps.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Lung Cancer Questions
Asked by Unidexter on Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Just how sick does chemo make a person? Is it not possible that the surgery removed all of the cancer cells? why not look to see if there is something to treat and then treat it rather than the other way around.
10 Answers from the Community
Let me answer your second question first. Yes, it is possible that surgery removed all the cancer cells. It is just as possible (or more so) that it didn't. In most cases, additional diagnostic tests such as PET, CT, or MRI scans look for additional area of cancer metastasis, but they all have an accuracy threshold. Even if the results show no evidence of disease, there could still be cancer cells, both dormant and active. So what it boils down to is (quoting Clint Eastwood) do you feel lucky?
How sick depends on a lot of factors including which chemo drugs are used, what dosage, how often, and the patient's overall health.
How sick one gets from chemo depends on the person and the drugs used it can vary from not at all to very sick. In most cases there are several drugs to choose from so if one makes you too siock you can try another. As to the second question about looking for something to treat, theyt usually will do that; however, CT and PRT scans can see tumors no smaller that about 4 mm and a 1 mm tumor has about a billion cells in it so chemo is often given after surgery as a prevenative measure. Cnacer can be a tricky little devil and likes to sneak around and hide when it can. Also chemo works best on smaller tumors thus it is more likely to work the earlier it is given. In this case an ounce of prevention is worth a puond of cure and in the long run it is less pain. Good Luck
With his previous cancer, my dad had non-small-cell squamous lung cancer, stage 2b. He had surgery to remove a lobe of his lung. That was followed by chemotherapy with taxol and carboplatin. He did relatively well with that chemotherapy. He was tired. His hair fell out. He had the chemo hiccups briefly. His blood counts did drop down, and he required 4 injections of Neulasta, which helps boost your white blood cells. Those injections caused what he described as "bone pain." The most shocking part of that drug at the time was the cost billed. Thank goodness for insurance ----- $32,000. for 4 injections. No joke.
At that time, he was able to carry on relatively normal activity, including driving. It is possible that he would not have further metastases. However, looking at the literature, it seemed like the right thing to do for him to go through with the adjuvant chemotherapy. That chemotherapy wasn't as bad as we expected before we knew anything about chemo. That cancer has been kept down since 2010. He is dealing with a different cancer now-- pancreatic stage 4-- that does not appear to be related in any way with the first cancer. The chemotherapy for this new cancer was much harder on his body.
The thing to ask is what do you really want. What happens if you don't have the follow-up chemotherapy? What happens if you're suddenly dealing with a new tumor in your liver or somewhere else, because there was cancer that you could not see or cut out? It's tough to answer that question. You can research and ask questions regarding the outcomes for people who choose not to have adjuvant chemotherapy http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/lung
With regard to dad's chemo for his first lung cancer, overall, not as bad as expected. Glad to have done it in hindsight. It was over before too long. Remember that you are in charge, and if treatment gets to be too much for you, you can blow the whistle.
Having prophylactic chemo and/or is standard procedure for most cancers. As was pointed out in the other answers, this is done to make sure that get all of the cancer cells, cancer is sneaky and cells can be floating around that are not picked up on scans, etc.
How sick you get from treatment depends on many factors, what drugs they give you, what other conditions you may have, etc. The worst side effects for me are from the pre-treatment steroids, which cause anger, constipation and insomnia. I also get mild muscle aches after some of my treatments. Chemo has also caused issue with my blood counts, and Blood Pressure, as well a swelling in my ankles
Everyone responds differently to chemo as with all medications. I had 4 rounds and they gave me meds so that it would go easier. I had no nausea or vomiting and since I am on an extended release dose of morphine and percocet for breakthrough pain I can honestly say it wasn't a bad experience. I lost my hair, but constipation was my biggest issue. I am going for prophylactic brain irradiation now. The small cell lung cancer that I had is completely gone, however those cells often find a sanctuary in the brain. The blood brain barrier prevents the chemo from entering the brain. There could be microscopic cancer cells in my brain, so giving this treatment should alleviate the possibility of getting mets to the brain. It is a better scenario than if I didn't get the radiation and ended up with mets. Hope this helps! Good Luck to you.
I think it's very possible. I'm the perfect example. I had nsc lung cancer and had the upper
left lobe surgically removed. I haven't had any chemo or radiation. It's been seven years for me and I expect
many more. I had my last ct scan 1/28/13 and received the results today.
CLEAN! I hope this gives everyone hope.
Doctors do differt things to treat lc based on a lot of different factors like type of cancer and stage. I was treated with chemo & rad together and then radical surgery that took a lobe, some bone from my spine & 3 ribs. I had absolutely ZERO sickness side effects from my chemo which was cisplatin & etopiside. I did lose about half of my hair and rad gave me a sore throat. I cruised thru all of that!! I did have some serious post-op pain and actually had to have more surgery on those spine bones a year later.
Have a frank chat with the docs about what they hope to gain by giving you chemo. If it's to be cured or to keep it from spreading or to help with pain can all help you decide what to do.
Best of luck!
I had chemo, radiation, surgery, and then three rounds of adjuvant chemo. Most major lung cancer experts reccomend this schedule if surgery is involved and the person can tolerate the treatments.
Some will suggest surgery and then chemo radiation but it depends upon the cancer and the person and now the mutations.
After having the lower lobe of my right lung removed,( lobectomy), my surgeon felt that he got all of my cancer. He recommended a round of chemo to get any cells that couldn't be seen or missed. I went through 4 months of weekly chemo treatments. Chemo was rough but I tolerated it well. I drove myself to all my treatments and worked the following day. I did experience a few bouts of joint pain during the course of my treatment. I never lost my hair or experienced nausea. I did spend 1 week in the hospital after the third week of chemo. I was being overdosed and developed blood clots in my lung, sepsis, pneumonia, and a high fever.
After the chemo ended, a pet scan showed that I was cancer free. Then 90 days later, a follow up scan showed an enlarged lymph node in the center of my chest. It turned out to be stage III cancer. I finished 5 weeks of daily radiation treatments a month ago today and will have more scans tomorrow. I'm hoping for a good outcome this time around. I have been through so much since being diagnosed with cancer 15 months ago.