Complications with lung cancer that metastasized to the brain

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 00:00

Hi my mom is 76 and was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that metastasized to the brain at the end of December (about 7 weeks ago). She also has A-Fib which was being treated with Eloquis.

Since then she has had a craniotomy and the brain tumor was removed. She has had one – 3day course of chemo. After her first chemo treatment, she developed severe edema and infection in her feet, which we took her to the ER for. Then they found that she was suffering from diverticulitis w/perforation and c-diff. She has been hospitalized for 9 days as of today, for the infections and diverticulitis. They just found an intestinal abscess and are planning a needle aspiration tomorrow. She was scheduled for her second round of chemo this week, but it has been pushed back until they get the infections under control. She is miserable and I hate for her to go through this.

I would like to know what effect the intestinal issues will have on her overall prognosis? Unless she improves greatly with antibiotics, I don’t believe she is strong enough to go through another session of chemo, especially if it results in more after effects.

In everything I have read, life expectancy for someone with stage 4 lung cancer that has metastasized to the brain is 3months to a year, but more like 6 months, and that is without these other complications. I love my mom dearly, but I don’t want her to go through unnecessary pain and suffering just to increase her life expectancy by a month or two.


Hi georgiac,

Welcome to Grace. I am so so sorry to hear about your mom. She’s going through A LOT. You’re right in saying that she will need to recover before having more chemo but there are some options for when she does feel better enough and can and wants to get on with treatment.

There’s just no way to know your mom’s prognosis especially at this point. she’s had her brain met treated and has had a bit of chemo so that may well slow her cancer down a bit. But everyone’s lung cancer is different and moves at a different pace. Co morbidities also add to the complexities of how one will do and how long one will live. Your numbers are probably about right but no one can give you a better guess than that. C diff takes longer to treat and heal than other infections.

If your mom feels like she wants to try more anti cancer treatment and her oncologist gives her the all clear a single agent chemo (without the platinum base chemo she probably got the first time) can be much less toxic including much less toxic for the immune system. If it is effective it can keep cancer at bay for months. She may completely get over her infections and be able to try more options.

It’s one day at a time right now, I know and I hope she is feeling better very soon.
Sending good vibes your way,