My 75 year old father was diagnosed this week with a Stage 4 large cell neuroendocrine tumour.
He’d gone to the GP several months ago complaining of breathlessness and back pain, he’d been several times previously and essentially nothing had been done, but on this occasion the GP referred him for a CT scan. Based on the scan, which was some 6 months ago, doctors diagnosed that he had osteoporosis, but they failed to “see” the tumour.
Being a rather “failing” 75 year old (rather than some of the remarkably fit and healthy 75 year olds that you see getting on with their lifes) he and my mother regularly visit their GP and on each occasion since the scan he complained of occasional chest pains, general fatigue and breathlessness. On one visit, some 3 months ago, the GP reffered him for an X-ray – this time they “saw” a shadow on his right lung and arranged for him to be seen by a consultant.
The consultant confirmed that the tumour was evident on the original CT scan and had been missed by his colleagues! He also advised that they couldn’t undertake a CT-guided biopsy because of fluid around the lung – some of this was fluid was drained and sent for analysis. The fluid proved inconclusive so he then had some form of biopsy (I’m afraid that I didn’t note the medical term for the procedure). The results being that it was the Stage 4 large cell neuroendocrine tumour lung cancer I refer to above.
The doctor had hoped to drain more of the fluid to ease the breathing, but the x-rays showed that the amount of fluid hadn’t really increased in the last month, so it was not worth it. What’s causing the ever-increasing breathlessness is the increasing size/affect tumour, and not the fluid. Understandably he refused to answer Dad’s inevitable question – how long have I got!
So, the question. Given he’s a rather “old” 75, and the incurable nature of the cancer, do I advise him to take the Chemo and all it’s “risks” or not? He has very little pain in the chest area.