Type 1 Diabetic recently diagnosed with small cell lung cancer - 1267254

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 14:43

My 55 year old sister is a type 1 diabetic since the age of 14. She was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and the oncologist has recommended chemotherapy and radiation. She asked if any type 1 had done this successfully but the oncologist has only treated type 2.
My sister would like to know if it is realistic for her to attempt four months of treatment and is not sure she will survive it due to her diabetes. She also needs a better understanding of what she may gain from the treatment, as the prognosis we have found is not good. Her blood sugars are erratic and have made it difficult to have a PET scan. Other scans are showing her abdomen and brain to be clear.
Thank you for any assisitance you may have to offer.

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Welcome to GRACE. I am very sorry to hear of your sister's diagnosis. Her prognosis depends a great deal upon whether she has limited stage and extensive stage small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Some patients with limited stage disease may be able to be cured, and patients at either stage may be able to live longer with treatment. You may want to start with Dr. Gadgeel's posts on Introduction and Treatment of Small Cell Lung Cancer.

PET scans are most important for initial staging to determine how much the cancer may have spread, but other scans such as brain MRIs and CTs of other parts of the body may substitute, and are usually used for follow-up rather than PET scans.

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Dr West

I don't see any reason why she couldn't be treated for SCLC despite her diabetes. I also don't see any reason why it would be necessary to have an oncologist with experience treating many patients with type 1 diabetes -- I don't think that's a very realistic expectation.

SCLC is aggressive enough to often limit survival to just weeks to a few months without treatment. Even if not curative, treatment is on average quite likely to profoundly improve survival into the range of months or sometimes years, and some patients' limited SCLC is potentially curable.

Given the very substantial difference made from treatment, we almost always favor trying treatment even in people with other medical issues.

Good luck.

-Dr. West


The only problem I've seen encountered from those with diabetes and receiving chemo has been if they have to have steroids. This can increase the glucose in diabetics and should be monitored closely.
Take care, Judy