• HVG's Avatar

    Is chemo and radiation worth the sickness to extend life when dealing with Glioblastoma?

    Asked by HVG on Sunday, September 18, 2011

    Is chemo and radiation worth the sickness to extend life when dealing with Glioblastoma?

    My dad is 63 and previously has never been sick. He was just diagnosed with Glioblastoma. The doctors want to do chemo and radiation for 6 weeks. Is this sickness worth the side effects or end results. If the prognosis is 18 months, I don't want him to spend a third of the time sick. Any advice is appreciated.

    11 Answers from the Community

    11 answers
    • lovekitties' Avatar

      Hi HVG. Sorry to hear this about your Dad. I see that he has had lesions removed. You ask a difficult question, because for each individual quality vs quantity is different. I was 63 when diagnosed. While my cancer was different, I had the same choice to make. If you Dad is mentally capable I would suggest you and he talk with the docs who plan to do the treatments. Find out what exact treatments (i.e.general radiation or directed radiation, other...what kind of chemo). Once you know this then you can get some specific thoughts from those who have done them. The type of treatment can make a big difference in what to expect. Once you have the details (pro and con) and taking his life circumstances into account, it will be easier to make that decision. No matter what the choice is, it needs to be what is 'right' for him, with no looking back to say 'what if'. Best wishes to you and your Dad.

      about 5 years ago
    • Grand7's Avatar

      So sorry to hear about your father. Our experience was our 81 year old Uncle. First of all the surgery gave him an immediate improvement. He under went both chemo and radiation. The chemo did not produce many side effects for him. The radiation was a little bit tougher on him. Each person is different. Buying time at this point may seem futile to you but time does make acceptance easier. Also the treatments may be discontinued at any time. Remember when decisions are made with love, they are the right decisions! Best wishes to you and your family.

      about 5 years ago
    • mikerudy's Avatar

      I am so sorry for what your family is going through and appreciate the significance of the decisions you are facing.

      My mom was diagnosed with a Grade 3 Anaplastic Astrocytoma at the age of 55. After her diagnosis she had a tumor resection followed by chemotherapy and radiation. 5 years after her original diagnosis the tumor progressed to a Grade 4 Glioblastoma and she had another tumor resection. My mom felt very strongly at the time that she wanted to pursue additional treatment in the form of chemotherapy. My family was fully committed to supporting her wishes. Mom lived another 6 months after her Grade 4 Glioblastoma diagnosis.

      During the last 6 months of her life, we made frequent (almost every other day) trips to her oncologist/hospital for doctor appointments, chemotherapy, blood transfusions, etc. In addition, we consulted with The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University which required several flights from Indiana to North Carolina. This regimen took its toll on both my Mom and our family. She was weak and very tired but she insisted that we continue treatment until she entered hospice.

      Ultimately, I respect my mom’s choices. Although, I sometimes wonder if she would have had a better quality of life at the end if she had not done treatment.

      about 5 years ago
    • misha41510's Avatar

      Hello, I'm sorry to hear about your dad.

      My mom was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma back in January. She immediately had surgery and went through chemo and radiation. What I can say about my experience with my mom is that she chemo they have given her is not nearly as bad as you hear about with other cancers. The chemo she received was in pill form so she didn't have to go to the hospital for it. And it hasn't had a huge impact on her emotionally, for what I can tell. Yes, she did lose some (but not all) of her hair. But mostly she was just tired. And sometimes had trouble sleeping (but I believe that was from other medications she was taking, not the chemo). From what she's told me, the radiation took a little but more of a toll physically. But it only lasted during the radiation treatments. Once those 6 weeks were up, she felt more like her old self.

      I recommend the chemo and radiation. Usually what the doctors suggest are a good choice. But I also suggest getting second opinions from other doctors if you are unsure about anything. I also suggest looking into alternative treatments, anything that is safe to try. If there are no negative side effects, what's the harm in trying anything that could help? Also explore clinical trials in your area. Explore all of your options and make you both you and your dad are confident in the decisions you make.

      about 5 years ago
    • walgenbb's Avatar

      I am sorry for your Dad's diagnosis. My husband just turned 60 and he was diagnosed with Grade IV Glioblastoma Multiforme in February 2011. He had a resection and did 8 weeks of radiation and Chemo and is now doing Chemo 5 days on 23 days off. And he does the Avastin via IV every other week. I believe without the treatments the cancer would be progressing quickly and we are very thankful for every day we have together. I would strongly recommend the treatments. The Chemo is not terrible for my husband and seems like the worst side effect is tiredness. He has had to have a tube put in his left ear (surgical side) due to damage from the radiation and he has been fighting with that but he is still very active and is even building a tool shed a little at a time on the days he feels well enough. I say gooo for it! Take every chance you can. Your Dad is still young!

      almost 5 years ago
    • Rainbowkdm's Avatar

      So sorry to hear about your father. As far as chemo and radiation treatment goes, if he has been healthy up to this point, I would do it. My husband was diagnosed with GBM Sept. 23, 2010 at age 46. He had craniotomy, then 6 weeks chemo and radiation. We have been blessed that he is still with us. This particular treatment did not make him sick. He would get tired quickly but keeps on going.

      almost 5 years ago
    • jbrw's Avatar

      Sorry about your dad. My brother, also 63, was diagnosed 4 months ago with stage 4 glioblastoma. Had surgery, which got about 70% of the tumor; did 6 weeks of radiation/oral chemo (temodar), and has now finished 2 rounds of temodar (5 days on, 23 days off). Radiation/chemo did not have terrible side effects -- mostly fatigue. The worst part, quite frankly, was getting him to and from the treatment center -- he progressed from walking on his own to needing a wheelchair during the treatment, and the whole process was tiring. The first round of oral chemo was very bad -- vomiting, weakness, disorientation -- for about a week after the chemo. Then he bounced back and was better than he'd been since the surgery. The second round of chemo was much less impacting -- fatigue which was the worst about a week after the chemo ended. The impact of his tumor has been on his speech, cognition, and right-side weakness causing imbalances and falls. He needs 24/7 care, cannot go out without a wheelchair, and can no longer do the things he most liked to do -- read, stay current on news and events, go to movies, out to dinner, and work. He still enjoys friends, who have been generous with their time and take him out for meals. (Family all lives out of town.) We are at the stage where we are wondering the same thing you are -- is more chemo worth it?

      Having been through all of this, I would have to say that he wanted all of the treatment he went through, so far. Seems to have been the main thing in keeping him going through every day, the hope that a miracle would occur. He is not capable of making the kinds of decisions he used to make, so we can't have the conversations about what he wants, we just have to try to understand where he is every time there is a decision point. The dr's don't think any more chemo will help.

      I wouldn't give up on treatment just yet -- see how he tolerates the radiation/chemo, and how much of an impact on his daily activities there is. If he handles it reasonably well, there's no downside to the treatment, and it most likely will at least prolong his time available. Get as much info as you can from docs and other resources, and keep processing it. And just keep going from there....keep talking with him as long as you can about how he feels about it all, and with the docs so they can tell you what things look like now, and what they might look like in the future. I've found there is really no hard info, except for the occasional MRI, and even then there remain decision points.

      You can always stop treatment. I do believe that we will know when it's time for my brother to stop treatment and just enjoy what little time he has left.

      This is as difficult for you to deal with as for him....news like this is not easy to absorb and keep going. Make sure you take time for yourself to deal with it and do whatever you need to do to stay strong and healthy.

      almost 5 years ago
    • troache's Avatar

      You might want to check out Perelman Cancer, though the prognosis is different for everyone, my girlfriend has received an optimistic prognosis is there years and with the exception of general fatigue and and routine constipation it was well tolerated. Anytime with a loved one is valued the hope, faith and decision should be share.

      about 4 years ago
    • Zacksdad's Avatar

      My prognosis was 1 year after the entire tumor was removed. My neuosurgeon decided to pack the resection site full of as much gliadel wafers as he could fit. I went to our local cancer center for their suggestion of post op treatment. Then I went to The Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. Both places suggested the same treatment. As PRTBTC.suggested I take my radiation at our local cancer center and see them every other month for MRIs and check-ups. I was lucky and had a prescription for Zofran as an anti-nausea drug which worked very well for me so I had no nausea problems through any treatment. I am now working on my 3rd year of survivorship. So you must remember that your doctors are giving you their best guess. Every thing he does, every treatment he takes are just one battle in HIS war. Hopefully you both have faith that help you can get strength for your battles. God Bless you both.

      about 4 years ago
    • anna1954's Avatar

      December 22, 2008 my husband was diagnosed with stage 4+ GBM. The first doctor told us it wasn't malignant and it was up to us as to when we wanted to schedule the surgery. 2 weeks later my husband fell in the shower. We contacted a friend, head of Radiation at Mass. General. We forwarded all the test results to him. Within a day he wanted to know how fast we go come to Mass. General. The doctors gave my husband 10 months. My husband has had several different chemo drugs and radiation. There has been some side effects but we discussed them with his oncologist and changed chemo drugs. His oncologist said that we weren't out of options just yet. My husband was tumor free for 3 years. Due to problems with my husband's blood the Avastin treatments were stopped in December 2011. A small tumor just returned in May. He has had additional radiation treatment and back on Avastin. Fatigue is one problem with treatment. The major problem is depression.

      Everyone is different and responds differently to the treatment. If appears that most of the chemo and radiation treatments for GBM doesn't have severe side effects. I would suggest trying the treatment to see how much your dad can sustain. Perhaps all things being said your dad might be the one we continue to talk to 17 years from now. Best of luck.

      about 4 years ago
    • melee_me's Avatar

      In my 21yr old daughter's case it was worth it and she coped really well with the radiation & Temozolomide. She's still going very well 5 yrs post GBM diagnosis.

      over 3 years ago

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