Adenocarcinoma - Quality of Life
January 24, 2014 2:01 PM   Subscribe

Some one very close to be has been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the lungs. What can I expect over the next five(?) years?

Some one very close to be has been diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the lungs. I'm not likely going to get a straight answer from them as to what stage they have (other than not stage IV) nor am I sure whether they are going to opt for treatment. I'm not going to pry or push, but I want to know what the next five years look like depending on their decisions. Please tell me about their quality of life, as well as their family's, and the way it changes after a diagnosis of Adenocarcinoma. Please specify what stage the of cancer your experience stems from.
posted by Nanukthedog to Health & Fitness (4 answers total)
My mother in law has had adenocarcinoma of the lungs for over 15 years. She is never forthcoming with information about her health but I know she had one lung removed when she was first diagnosed--I believe it was stage IIA. This last fall she had an ablation for a nonoperable new tumor--I'm not sure which type. Because she is not forthcoming about her treatment or health, even with her children, none of us expected her to be as well as she is, but she does not look or act like one expects a cancer patient to look or act. Presumably it is because she is not undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy after the ablation.

Her quality of life is pretty good, in other words. She's in her mid-late 60's now and only just retired from school teaching.

She only really needs oxygen at night or in high altitudes (the family often spends part of the year in the mountains. BUT she can't breathe well. She really can't. She won't admit it, but it's true. So she gets really tired and really crabby. I have not been able to find a good link, but it's my understanding from some medical professionals that irritability is a common effect of COPD and the aftermath of lung cancers. Not being able to breathe comfortably does a number on one's nerves.

She walks slowly. She can't walk long distances. She needs an oxygen machine to sleep and is very short-tempered. Other than that, you'd never know she is has recurrent lung cancer.
posted by LeeloDallasMultiSocks at 4:13 PM on January 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

My mother had adenocarcinoma of the lungs. She lived about a year and a quarter after diagnosis. First surgery removed one lung. She had chemo and radiation. Later targeted radiation for bone mets (where were quite painful). For about a year of that time her quality of life was ok. She was on oxygen intermittently and lived long enough to teach my dad how to cook more stuff and do laundry. (side note here -they had so much fun cooking together they realized they should have started doing that together much earlier in the 50+ years they were married).

A later round of chemo to treat more mets in bone and liver led to her becoming neutropenic - having no measurable white cell count and she died less than 2 weeks after starting that round of chemo. She was lucid until the very end and was entirely able to make decisions and communicate them until the last few hours when she ran out of voice/energy to speak.

Her quality of life varied - she was very angry for a good chunk of that year, mainly at herself for smoking for more than 60 years. She had low energy and was in pain off and on. Chemo had a variety of side affects - platinum drugs are often used for this cancer and they cause neuropathy and mess with one's sense of smell and taste and can cause deep bone pain. Nausea was not a big issue though. She did live long enough to have some closure, come to terms with dying and to say goodbyes. Those aren't trivial.

My understanding of that diagnosis is that living more than a year with it is the exception rather than the norm. Her cancer was stage IIB at diagnosis. She died 9 years ago - I don't know that treatment for this has changed much or not.
posted by leslies at 5:14 PM on January 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend you check out the Inspire forum for adenocarcinoma of the lungs; I think there are several forums on Inspire for lung cancer and I follow the forum for ovarian cancer because I have a couple of friends with it and the posts are full of information, as well as compassion and understanding.

No one can tell you what to expect like those who have been there. I wish your friend healing and strength and peace - for yourself, also.
posted by aryma at 6:28 PM on January 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 adenocarcinoma 9 months ago. She is doing OK for the moment, but it's anyone's guess what her quality of life will be in the coming months/years. Her oncologist told her she could expect survival of 6 months to 2 years and left it at that. It's not clear to us what her decline will look like, and I don't think she really wants to ask.

At the moment, at age 75, she is still living a pretty normal life, although she tires easily, takes lots of naps, walks slowly and gets winded easily. She participated for a short time in a clinical trial, but had an allergic reaction and had to quit the trial.

From what I understand about this cancer, experiences and outcomes vary tremendously from one person to the next. If your family member has one of the mutations that can be target-treated, that can mean much better chances of longer survival. My mom did not test positive for any mutations. Her care will be palliative going forward.

A lot depends on the individual's health at the time of diagnosis, where the tumor is and how many, and the kind of treatment available. Metastases are not uncommon with lung cancer, and tumours often appear in the brain or liver. Many people I read about on the cancer forums struggle more with their brain mets than their lung cancer. There can also be a myriad other complications that arise, and which can ultimately kill you before the cancer does. My mom has already had one pulmonary embolism, and has struggled with anemia since the the diagnosis. In addition to Inspire, you can also try the Cancer Forums for more first-hand accounts.
posted by amusebuche at 3:24 AM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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