Is there a set amout of chemotherapy a lung cancer can receive?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 25, 2016
Pippa1964 asked...

my mother had several chemo sessions a few months ago which sadly didnt get rid of her cancer. the cancers worse now than it was and she has to start chemo again tomorrow. i have heard that only a certain amount of chemo can be given to patients due to the harm it does to the body. is there a set amount of chemo offered to individuals or does it vary from person to person? if this next batch of chemo sessions isnt successful,would my mum be offered any alternative treatment. she has been told the type of lung cancer shes got,cant be operated on and she has also received radiotherapy when she was first i right in thinking that the outlook for my mum is as bleak as it seems?

Expert Answers

Andrew Putnam, M.D. is a Palliative Care physician at Smilow Cancer Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

You ask several questions having to do with chemotherapy in lung cancer patients. From your description it sounds like your mother's cancer is metastatic. If so I am very sad to write that yes, the outlook for your mother is as bleak as it seems. Metastatic lung cancer is very hard to treat and almost always can not be cured and in the end causes the patient's death.

The total amount of chemotherapy given varies from person to person depending on whether it works or not. If the cancer does not grow or shrinks while a patient receives it, it will usually continue if the patient can tolerate it. If the cancer gets worse while the patient is receiving chemotherapy, usually they will stop that chemotherapy and try a different one, if there is one to offer. If the cancer continues to grow despite all the reasonable chemotherapies, then there may not be another choice. At that point hospice is a very reasonable choice to emphasize comfort.