Hugs - you are doing the right thing by calling your dad's oncologist and asking him about this issue. You can always get a second opinion if you feel the answer is not helpful.
Small Cell, Lung Cancer Questions
Why no surgery?
Asked by amt on Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Why no surgery?
I've read some other users here who have had surgery to remove the cancer. I wonder why his oncologist never suggested surgery. I assume it is because dad is 83 and so weak. But I plan to call and see why. Guess I'm holding out hope.
5 Answers from the Community
It often depends on the stage of the cancer. If it is an advanced stage that has metastisized or there are multiple tumors, surgery is usually not an option because it would require multiple surgeries to multiple sites or because vital organs that the cancer may have spread to cannot be removed. Whether surgery is a viable treatment option is rarely related to age or strength. If anything surgery is often much easier on the patient than other treatment options.
I agree with SueRae1 re your phoning your dad's oncologist to find out why. But from my own experience (with my late Mom), surgeons are not so anxious to operate on an elderly frail patient (so many variables that can go amiss). Having been married to a physician (not a surgeon), I can tell you that doctors like to try and avoid potential lawsuits whenever possible.
I hope your dad's not in any pain or discomfort and that he still has a good deal of time to enjoy being with you regardless of surgery.
Although age can sometimes be a potential risk factor in thoracic surgery it does not exclude cancer physicians from exploring the possibility of a patient having surgery. Surgery is offered to patients when there tumor is confined to one area in the chest and has not spread from that location to another location, such as chest to liver, chest to brain, or any other organs within the body. If the cancer did start in the chest and moved to other areas it would be considered metastatic disease. Often the tumor in the chest is not in a location that is ammenable to surgery and that excludes the patient from being a surgical candidate. At St. Francis Hospital we have a Multidisciplinary Lung Clinic every Thursday morning. Patients medical history and their scans are reviewed in the clinic by Thoracic Surgeons, Medical Oncology, Radiation Oncology, Pulmonology and Radiolgsist. This allows the physicians to assess all the possible treatment options available for the patient, determine what treatment options are excluded and what is the best treatment option for the patient. Once the patients medical history, testing and current health have been assessed it is determined if they are candidate for surgery, SBRT (stereotactic radiation therapy), chemotherapy or radiation or chemotherapy & radiation combined. There are times when a patient can decide between having surgery of SBRT (less invasive) This is a huge benefit for patients/families to know that all the treatment modalities were explored, considered and discussed amonst each other and then with the patients/families. The next time your father has an appointment with his Oncologist ask him to explain why your father was not a surgical candidate, it will give you and your father an answer to your question and some peace of mind. I wish you and your father all the best. I lost my father to lung cancer at 74 and understand that you want to do the very best for him.