How long to live on palliative care only? - 1274654


My mom age 62 was diagnosed with stage IV adenocarcinoma, after a malignant pleural effusion that originally presented in January. She has some bone mets (spine, rib), possible thyroid met. No brain involvement at present. Mild pain, moderate on some days. Naps often but still very mobile and self-sufficient. Has no mutations so targeted therapy is not an option.

She is considering palliative care only; is very against chemo and wary of the immunotherapy trial she's been offered although might change her mind. I just want to know whether any other caregivers here have seen someone do palliative care only, and what the experience was like. How quickly did your loved one decline? etc. I want to be prepared for worst case scenario as I'll likely be her caregiver.

Also, does chemo or immunotherapy create the possibility of a better/less painful death? I am concerned about the side effects of either, but also concerned about my mother's actual death process. Ultimately I just want her to suffer as little as possible. Thank you in advance.


Posts: 635

I'm 62 and was diagnosed with adeno stage IIIA in 2010. I've also had a recurrence. 62 is far from old unless it's because she has other health issues that concern you. I managed chemo and radiation the first time around and surgery and chemo the second time. These are all doable treatments. It's not like it used to be where you see someone suffer terribly. Symptoms and side effects are managed. Since she's stage IV, all her treatment is considered palliative since they can't cure her. She could go into remission which in lung cancer is called NED, no evidence of disease. Does she not want to do treatment? There's no way to know how someone will go through the end stage of cancer and I've never heard that having treatment of any kind makes a difference in the way you pass. We're all different and she could go downhill quickly or linger for months even up to a year without treatment. But with treatment, she could be around much longer.
Take care, Judy
P.S. I am a LC survivor and advocate and not a medical professional.

Posts: 7

Thank you Judy, that was a very helpful response. Mom wants quality of life, and is trying to figure out how best to achieve that. I have read some scattered reports of terminally ill people who choose palliative only, and do relatively well up until close to the end. But it's hard to find much, because even when terminal, almost everyone chooses to at least start treatment if their body is in a condition to handle it. We will see what my mom ends up doing; her mind seems to change every day at this point, but of course she needs to decide soon.

Congratulations on NED and I'm glad to hear that this battle has gone well for you.