The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 8, 2013
I would like to request assistance for my dad and me. He is under treatment for lung cancer, Stage IV, and the doctor said treatment will be chemotherapy delivered on one day, followed by another dose after 21 days. The doctor said there will be another 5 doses to complete therapy, and that my father's life span is not more than 6 months from today. My father had a habit of smoking, and he repeatedly drinks tea. Please assist, is there any way that it will be cured?
Barbara Campling, MD, Medical Oncologist, responds:
From what you have told me, your dad has Stage IV lung cancer, and he has just started chemotherapy. Most cases of lung cancer are caused by years of smoking, but there is no association between lung cancer and drinking tea. In stage IV lung cancer, which is the most advanced stage, the cancer has spread outside the chest. Once this has occurred, it cannot be cured with any form of treatment. For patients who are well enough to tolerate the side effects, chemotherapy may prolong survival by several months, but it is not a curative treatment. Chemotherapy is often given every 3 weeks, as you have described as being the plan for your father. No one can say for sure how long your father will live with his cancer. Doctors often quote "median survival" figures to patients. A median survival of several months means that half of a group of patients with this stage of cancer will not live this long, and half of them will live longer. In general, doctors are good at predicting which patients have a chance of being cured of their cancer, but they are not good at predicting how long individual patients will live. There are occasional patients who do much better than anyone would have expected.