When are lung cancer patients finally given the all clear? - 1261461

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jojokie
When are lung cancer patients finally given the all clear? - 1261461

I have a few friends who have battled (and thankfully won) the fight against breast cancer. They have all been given the 'all clear' after having no recurrences after 5 years. What is the magic number of years NED for lung cancer patients to be given the 'you're cured nod'? Or, is there never a time when a lung cancer patient is considered 'cured'? If not, why does lung cancer have a different journey than other types of cancer? Anyway, just curious. Thanks!

I am stage 2b adenocarcinoma. I had a RLL VATS lobectomy Dec 9th and will begin adjuvent chemo shortly ... just as an FYI.

Thank you very much!

catdander
Reply To: When are lung cancer patients finally given the all

I hope you move through all your upcoming scans with nothing to alarm you or your doctors. Different cancers do have different courses but lung cancer's all clear is also 5 years. The further away you get the less likely your original cancer will make a comeback so if something did show up there's the possibility that it would be a new primary from which to treat.

Dr. West stated, "There are cancers that can recur beyond 5 years, but it really depends on the cancer. A hormone receptor positive breast cancer, a testicular seminoma, slow growing BAC lung cancer…a few others can also recur beyond 5 years. But in many/most cases, if a cancer hasn’t recurred within 5 years, it’s not going to…ever.
I’m not saying that the statement from these authorities that cancer can’t really be cured is a load of crap but… actually, yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. It’s an ignorant statement.
-Dr. West" http://cancergrace.org/cancer-101/topic/is-cancer-ever-cured/#post-2034

All the best,
Janine

Dr West
Reply To: When are lung cancer patients finally given the all

I agree with Janine and my own prior comments she quoted above, and I'd only add that it's not as if some magic barrier is crossed at 5 years, and before that you should live under a sword of Damocles (apologies if it's an obscure reference to some -- just meaning "threat/fear of imminent harm"). I think of the period after potentially curative therapy as a hurdles race. Even if it's technically 5 years long (or some distance like 500 meters), you should imagine that the hurdles, the risk, is really front-loaded. In other words, more of the hurdles are at the beginning of the race, and they become fewer and far between over the course of time and distance.

In fact, the data show that about 50% of recurrences happen within a year after surgery, two-thirds by 2 years, and around 80% within 3 years after surgery. So even though a small minority of cancers recur beyond that time (and I suspect that some recurring beyond 4 or 5 years out are actually new, separate cancers and not actual recurrences), you can interpret that if you've made it out 3 years, the odds are overwhelmingly in your favor even if you haven't reached a magic 5 year mark.

Here's a post that speaks to this issue and is the source of the numbers I gave above:

http://cancergrace.org/lung/2011/08/19/when-do-recurrences-of-lung-cance...

Good luck.

-Dr. West

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Howard (Jack) West
Medical Oncologist
City of Hope Cancer Center
Duarte, CA

Founder & President
Global Resource for Advancing
Cancer Education

jojokie
Reply To: When are lung cancer patients finally given the all

Thank you Catdander and Dr. West for your replies. I did read both links your provided. Sorry, I now see this was a question that, had I searched a little deeper into past posts, I would have found. I do appreciate the responses. I have since spent several hours going through previous posts/questions and I feel educated enough now to ask the right questions when I see my oncologist for the first time in a couple weeks. Cheers.

Dr West
Reply To: When are lung cancer patients finally given the all

Not a big deal. It's great when people can search for stuff that's here, but we also realize that there's so much information here that can be hard to find that it's a bit like trying to find a newspaper article somewhere in the home of a hoarder who has piles of newspapers all over the house. The search function helps, but it's far from perfect.

-Dr. West

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Dr. Howard (Jack) West
Medical Oncologist
City of Hope Cancer Center
Duarte, CA

Founder & President
Global Resource for Advancing
Cancer Education