Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Results are in....

Well the biopsy results are in: the cancer is limited to my right lung and it is "small cell carcinoma." It is a rare cancer, has only a 15 to 20 percent survival rate. But if I am one out of five who beats it then i won't have it again.

They have started me on a three day once a month Chemo regimen. My first day is 6 hrs. of Chemo treatment, the second day is 2 and a half hours of treatment and the third day is also 2 and a half hours of Chemo.

A little note on: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is treatment with anti-cancer drugs injected into a vein or taken by mouth. These drugs enter the bloodstream and go throughout the body, making this treatment useful for cancer that has spread (metastasized) to organs beyond the lung. Chemotherapy is usually the main treatment for small cell lung cancer (SCLC).

Doctors give chemotherapy in cycles, with a period of treatment (usually 1 to 3 days) followed by a rest period to allow your body time to recover. Chemotherapy cycles generally last about 3 to 4 weeks, and initial treatment typically is 4 to 6 cycles. Chemotherapy is often not recommended for patients in poor health, but advanced age by itself is not a barrier to getting chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy for SCLC generally uses a combination of 2 drugs. The drug combinations most often used for initial chemotherapy for SCLC are:
• Cisplatin and etoposide
• Carboplatin and etoposide
• Cisplatin and irinotecan
• Carboplatin and irinotecan
• Cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and vincristine

If the cancer progresses during treatment or returns after treatment is finished, different chemotherapy drugs may be tried. The choice of drugs depends to some extent on how soon the cancer begins to grow again. (The longer it takes for the cancer to return, the more likely it is to respond to further treatment.)
• If the cancer progresses during treatment or relapses within 2 to 3 months of finishing treatment, drugs such as topotecan, ifosfamide, paclitaxel, docetaxel, irinotecan, or gemcitabine may be tried.
• If the relapse occurs from 2 to 3 months to 6 months after treatment, topotecan is often the drug of choice. Other drugs that may be tried include irinotecan, the CAV regimen (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, and vincristine), gemcitabine, paclitaxel, docetaxel, oral etoposide, or vinorelbine.
• For relapses 6 or more months after treatment, the original chemotherapy regimen may still be effective and can often be tried again.

Possible side effects of chemotherapy

Chemotherapy drugs work by attacking cells that are dividing quickly, which is why they work against cancer cells. But other cells in the body, such as those in the bone marrow (where new blood cells are made), the lining of the mouth and intestines, and the hair follicles, also divide quickly. These cells are also likely to be affected by chemotherapy, which can lead to side effects.

The side effects of chemotherapy depend on the type and dose of drugs given and the length of time they are taken. These side effects can include:
• Hair loss
• Mouth sores
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea and vomiting
• Diarrhea or constipation
• Increased chance of infections (from low white blood cell counts)
• Easy bruising or bleeding (from low blood platelet counts)
• Fatigue (from low red blood cell counts)

These side effects are usually short-term and go away after treatment is finished. There are often ways to lessen these side effects. For example, there are drugs that can be given to help prevent or reduce nausea and vomiting.

Some drugs such as cisplatin, vinorelbine, docetaxel, or paclitaxel can damage nerves. This can sometimes lead to symptoms (mainly in the hands and feet) such as pain, burning or tingling sensations, sensitivity to cold or heat, or weakness. This is called peripheral neuropathy. In most cases this goes away once treatment is stopped, but it may be long lasting in some people. For more information, see our document, Peripheral Neuropathy Caused by Chemotherapy.

You should report this or any other side effects you notice while getting chemotherapy to your medical team so that they can be treated promptly. In some cases, the doses of the chemotherapy drugs may need to be reduced or treatment may need to be delayed or stopped to prevent the effects from getting worse.

I see the Radiation Dr. on this Thursday to set up my schedule seems like this cancer likes to head to the brain next so precautionary measures are to have radiation therapy to the brain, Monday thru Friday for 6 weeks.

A little note on: Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays (such as x-rays) or particles to kill cancer cells. External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) delivers radiation from outside the body that is focused on the cancer. This is the type of radiation therapy most often used to treat small cell lung cancer.

In small cell lung cancer (SCLC), radiation therapy may be used in several situations:
• It is most often given at the same time as chemotherapy in limited stage disease to treat the tumor and lymph nodes in the chest. After chemotherapy, radiation therapy is sometimes used to kill any small deposits of cancer that may remain.
• It can be used to shrink tumors to palliate (relieve) symptoms of lung cancer such as bone pain, bleeding, trouble swallowing, cough, shortness of breath, and problems caused by brain metastases.
• In limited SCLC, it is often given to the brain after other treatments, to help reduce the chances that the cancer will spread there. (The brain is a common site of metastasis.) This is called prophylactic cranial irradiation.

Before your treatments start, the radiation team will take careful measurements to find the correct angles for aiming the radiation beams and the proper dose of radiation. Radiation therapy is much like getting an x-ray, but the radiation is more intense. The procedure itself is painless. Each treatment lasts only a few minutes, although the setup time – getting you into place for treatment – usually takes longer.

Most often, radiation treatments as part of the initial treatment for SCLC are given once or twice daily, 5 days a week, for 3 to 7 weeks. Radiation to relieve symptoms and prophylactic cranial radiation are given for shorter periods of time.

Standard (conventional) EBRT isn't used as much as it used to be. Newer techniques help doctors treat lung cancers more accurately while lowering the radiation exposure to nearby healthy tissues. These techniques may offer better chances of increasing the success rate and reducing side effects. Most doctors now recommend using these newer techniques when they are available.

Three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT): 3D-CRT uses special computer programs to precisely map the location of the tumor(s). Radiation beams are shaped and aimed at the tumor(s) from several directions, which makes it less likely to damage normal tissues.

Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT): IMRT is an advanced form of 3D therapy. It uses a computer-driven machine that moves around the patient as it delivers radiation. Along with shaping the beams and aiming them at the tumor from several angles, the intensity (strength) of the beams can be adjusted to minimize the dose reaching the most sensitive normal tissues. This technique is used most often if tumors are near important structures such as the spinal cord. Many major hospitals and cancer centers are now able to provide IMRT.

Possible side effects of radiation therapy

Side effects of radiation therapy might include sunburn-like skin problems and hair loss where the radiation enters the body, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Often these go away after treatment. Radiation might also make the side effects of chemotherapy worse.

Chest radiation therapy may cause some damage to your lungs, which might cause a cough, problems breathing, and shortness of breath. These usually improve after treatment is over, although in some cases the symptoms may not go away completely.

Your esophagus, which is in the middle of your chest, may be exposed to radiation, which could cause a sore throat and trouble swallowing during treatment. This may make it hard to eat anything other than soft foods or liquids for a while.

Radiation therapy to large areas of the brain can sometimes cause memory loss, headaches, trouble thinking, or reduced sexual desire. Usually these symptoms are minor compared with those caused by a brain tumor, but they can reduce your quality of life. Side effects of radiation therapy to the brain usually become most serious 1 or 2 years after treatment.

Only time will tell what is in store and only by the "Grace of God" I go with...this is in HIS hands now! My faith will carry me through.
I want to Thank everyone who has sent their thoughts and prayers my way....God Bless You All!!!! I will keep you posted.

American Cancer Society Site



Robin said...

Lynn, this is the first time I seen the site about Cancer and I strongly believe you will make it because you are really a blessing to so many and especially to me. I think I have the right phone number for you and I'm going to call you and talk for a few. I'm so sorry you are going through this I must say I hate the "C" word because, I'm sorry they have so much money to figure a cure for it. I sometimes wonder where the money goes when they do walks and other things to help raise money. Well I hope to hear from you soon.
Love Robin
Blowing kisses to tre' and ryan always<3

Beckie Clymo said...

15 to 20 percent survival rate?? OMG this is not fair, you don't deserve this!! You gotta fight harder then you have ever fought in your life! We all need you and love you so much. I am in shock now, I kept praying it wasn't cancer, why does he never listen!?!