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Declining chemotherapy for stage 4 lung cancer

29 Nov 2021 09:49

Hi all

I was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer this time last year and had the two lower lobes of my right lung removed in January of this year.  I was offered chemotherapy afterwards, but the oncologist said that chemotherapy for my type of cancer would only increase my chance of 5-year survival by 5-10%.  She didn't advise me one way or the other, which I was happy with. I declined treatment at the time.  A 6-month follow up scan in October showed patches in both lungs, which resulted in a biopsy a forthnight ago.  Last week the Respiratory consultant told me that the biopsy confirmed that the cancer had returned and spread to the left lung.  Due to the diffuse pattern of the cancer, surgery is not an option.  He said that he will ask the oncologist to contact me to discuss chemotherapy. I expect to hear from him in the next few days.

I will have questions for him, but my feeling at the moment is that I would prefer to not have have chemotherapy and try to live as comfortably as possible for however long I have left.  I hope that I do not upset anyone who is having chemo, as I completely understand that it makes sense to try treat cancer with whatever tools the doctors have to hand.  I just wondered if anyone with lung cancer had declined chemo and what their experience is.  We are all different and I will make a decision after having a frank discussion with the oncologist.

Thanks in advance for any comments, Bluette

Declining chemotherapy for stage 4 lung cancer

30 Nov 2021 22:19 in response to Bluette

Hi, I'm so sorry to hear that the cancer has returned,

My sister was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer which has spread. Life expectancy 3 to 4 months without 6 sessions of chemo & 1 radiotherapy. She was adamant she didn't want chemo & wanted quality over qty. She was told that it would help to control her symptoms. She finally decided to give it one go. She's now had 2 rounds & third starting Monday. Chemo is keeping her symptoms under control & feels better than she was before the chemo. Chemo symptoms are minimal & she says that she feels lucky. I moved in to look after her when she was first diagnosed & she really is doing a lot better than I expected. I nursed my mother with the same condition 15 years ago but she wasn't offered chemo due to her age. It's personal choice & it effects people differently but I thank good she chose to give chemo a go. She was on oxygen, nebuliser, antibiotics, steroids etc before chemo as she was so poorly. Now in between chemo she's only taking one effervescent daily to help her breathing. I don't know how long she'll carry on like this but we are taking one day at a time & enjoying the time. Wishing you all the very best & take care.

Declining chemotherapy for stage 4 lung cancer

1 Dec 2021 07:26 in response to sidnie

Thanks very much for your reply Sidnie.  I am so pleased that your sister is experiencing a better quality of life than before, and that the chemo has helped her with that.  I have an appointment with the oncologist for the first time on 7 December, so I will be able to have a frank discussion with him.  Also bloods will be taken, perhaps to see whether I'm fit enough for chemo.  It's very kind that you have moved in with your sister as you did with your mum previously.  I live alone and my ex-partner and sister who both live 200 miles away have offered to have me live with them when I become frail. That is very kind of them but I think I would prefer to stay in my own home and perhaps ask for a social services needs assessment. They aren't able to come and live with me due to existing caring commitments for both of them. But that's a different subject.  At the moment I feel less hesitant about chemo and like your sister I may give it a go and see how it works out for me. Best wishes for you and your sister.


Declining chemotherapy for stage 4 lung cancer

1 Dec 2021 13:42 in response to Bluette

Hi Bluette

I was diagnosied as incurable last January, when my cervical cancer had spread to both ovaries. I haven't been given any life expectency 

I initally refused chemo, but then started 6 sessions over 5 months and it wasn't as bad as I was expecting and the side effects were managable. I've refused radiotherapy as I don't believe the side effects are worth the extra time it would give me. I think it's down to personal choice whatever route you choose, I'm not pro or anti chemo, but I'm glad I had it although I wouldn't go through it again now, you could always try one and see if the side effects are worth it? 



Declining chemotherapy for stage 4 lung cancer

1 Dec 2021 18:12 in response to Giggsy

Thanks for replying Giggsy.  I am glad that you found your chemo treatment manageable and derived some benefit from it.  There are so many things to think about aren't there when we get this kind of diagnosis!  I must make myself sit down and write say five questions to ask the oncologist.  I always think that's a good number of questions to ask a doctor - enough to get a good picture, but not too many to annoy them! I wish you the very best with your journey.