Is 24 hour care needed for a chemotherapy patient with small cell lung cancer, who is 70 years old?

1 answer | Last updated: Jan 27, 2011
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Is 24-hour care needed for a chemotherapy patient with small cell lung cancer who is 70 years old?

Expert Answers

Bonnie Bajorek Daneker is author and creator of the The Compassionate Caregiver's Series, which includes "The Compassionate Caregiver's Guide to Caring for Someone with Cancer," "The Journey of Grief," "Handbook on Hospice and Palliative Care," and other titles on cancer diagnosis and end of life. She speaks regularly at cancer research and support functions, including PANCAN and Cancer Survivor's Network. She is a former member of the Executive Committee of the CSN at St. Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta and the Georgia Chapter of the Lymphoma Research Foundation.

If your 70-year-old family member's in reasonably good health before the chemotherapy (and besides the cancer diagnosis), then NO.

However, if the 70-year-old has multiple health problems, such as heart disease, other lung disease, or diabetes, those problems may be exacerbated, and extra care is usually necessary.

The chemotherapy for small cell lung cancer is usually given on an out-patient basis, and the patients are able to walk (with assistance) out of the chemo facility. While there are many side effects that can come with chemotherapy, it's more the physiologic age, not the chronologic age that makes the difference in how the patient tolerates it. Put more simply, what kind of shape is the patient in? You will know when you need to give the patient 24-hour care when the person has trouble with basic functions like walking, using the restroom, and eating. Don't be afraid to ask the oncology nurses for a few pointers on how to help your loved one at home -- that helps you and makes their job easier too.