Whole Brain Radiation...deadly?

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Whole Brain Radiation...deadly?

by cancerloss on Wed Sep 18, 2013 08:33 PM

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My mother had lung adenocarcinoma with mets to her brain. There were pinpoint spots diffusely dispersed in her brain according to one test on her brain. Despite her own strong reservations about whole brain radiation, she conceded to WBR and radiation of her affected lung. The doctors suggested that these procedures were imperative to preserve her life.. Within a few days of the whole brain radiation, she had serious changes in her physical condition. She had been fully ambulatory but could not walk without a trembling gait afterwards. Although she had no cognitive impairment prior to whole brain radiation, she could not sign her name after less than a week! She could not communicate! My mother was a shell of her former self. Her partial dental plate came out of her mouth soon after WBR. She apparently had been having seizures. She began to display signs of a stroke victim with curling upper limbs, inability to speak or walk, and inability to respond to her environment. In addition after a CT scan follow-up on her lung, it was noted that the radiation to her lung damaged her good lung tissue. Her breathing became far more labored than it had been before radiation to her lung. She couldn't lie flat and breathe. When my mother screamed and displayed a look of extreme terror when lying flat for the whole brain radiation, the radiologist told us he couldn't treat her if she wouldn't cooperate and lie down! He ordered a sedative for her panic symptoms which was given. Almost immediately, my mother experienced periods of apnea and had to have an equivalent of Narcan or face a full code situation! As we watched our mother's condition deteriorate quickly after these radiation procedures, my sisters and I insisted on the CT scan follow-up. My mother's attending general medical physician, Dr. Earle F. Mazyck in Dothan, Alabama, finally complied. He acted like it was a bother and waste of time. In addition to the radiation-induced damage in her lungs, the CT scan revealed a pulmonary embolism. No one knows how long it had been in her lung. The radiology oncologist, Dr. Steven H. Stokes in Dothan, Alabama, said the cognitive impairment and stroke-like symptoms were caused by her disease process! Later, Dr. Steven Stokes said it was all just palliative treatment anyway. He did no tests to find out what negative impact the whole brain radiation had done to her brain. Her stroke-like symptoms were not addressed. My mother died less than a month after whole brain radiation and lung radiation were administered! Had the doctors written her off...after all she had terminal cancer anyway...and hastened her death by the use of these extremely dangerous procedures? My sisters and I believe so! If your loved one is elderly, RUN...not walk...from whole brain radiation!

RE: Whole Brain Radiation...deadly?

by SarahGrey on Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:03 PM

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I am so, so sorry...  :(

My husband had GBM brain cancer (inoperable) and we were told WBR and chemo were his best chances at prolonging life.  And that the only side effects of the radiation would have been some "fatigue" and that's about it.

(this is at a top NYC hospital, by-the-way)

The radiation made him so ridiculously fatigued that he slept most of the day.  It also caused extreme confusion and severe weakness.  Later, I found an article by his radiation oncologist that said essentially that "WBR should be used less frequently."

Did it give my husband more time?  I honestly doubt it.  Did it decrease his quality of life?  Absolutely.  If I had a time machine, would we do it again?  No, and I wouldn't recommend it to ANYONE. 

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