Will radiation therapy for lung cancer make my father's COPD worse?

Possibly. Radiation can injure the lung tissue. Therefore since COPD is already an injury they can be additive. The radiation doctor needs to know values for fvc and fev1 (tell you how good the lung is) and consider these in his planning for the radiation. The majority of lung cancer is in smokers and most have copd. So its just how bad it is and how much lung is going to be radiated.
Can happen. Talk to treating doctors about using Prednisone or other strategies to minimize this..
Unusual. That would be quite unusual but he made need prednisone. Check with lung specialist and get cxr.
Radiation and COPD. It may, we will usually see a loss of about 20% of the irradiated volume in terms of lung function.
Lung & COPD. No. There are strict guidelines concerning surgery and pul func tests, but not so for radiotherapy. Usually breathing actually improves, but a lot depends on location. I would have radiotherapy for lung cancer if I had COPD without question.
No. Radiation therapy can cause lung changes including fibrosis and pneumonitis. The biggest factors are his current lung cancer stage, amount of lung that the radiation will affect, and other medical conditions.
Yes. Radiation will cause some local scarring/collateral damage to the healthy lung adjacent to the lung cancer is trying to treat. This unfortunately translates into some decline in baseline lung function. People with COPD (like your father) already have some compromised baseline lung function. Techniques like cyberknife stereotactic body radiotherapy may allow to minimize collateral lung damage.

Related Questions

Is it unusual for the radiation therapy for lung cancer to make someone lose his voice?

Yes. The vocal cords when treated directly could cause this so in lung cancer thats not likely. However the left vocal cord has a nerve that goes down in the chest then comes back up to the cord. There may be cancer in the mediastinum that is compressing this nerve leading to the hoarseness. Radiation by itself in the usual fractioned (6 week) course shouldn't. With cyberknife it may happen.
Yes. Loosing voice can be due to direct invasion of the larynx (far from lung) or laryngeal nerve compression or damage (recurrent laryngeal nerve in the chest). Advanced cancer can be pressing on this nerve and cause voice loss. If there is no voice loss to start with, it is unusual for radiation to damage the nerve in typical dose fractionation.

Are there effective natural alternatives to radiation therapy for lung cancer?

No. There are no randomized studies that show that natural alternatives are as effective as radiation therapy for lung cancer.
Radiation Is Natural. In the beginning, there was light! ...And it and higher energies are as natural as anything that grows in a field or harvested from the seas. Many isotopes found in nature are radioactive. As with any force of nature, unbridled it can cause harm; used wisely and accurately, it can be another gift of creation. But the health food store does not have a substitute that works as well.
No. The key to treat lung cancer is the standard treatment which may consist of surgery, radiation or chemotherapy or combination of the above. However there are supplementary treatments such as message, music therapy accunpuncture, meditation to enhance treatment and reduce toxicities but they cannot substitute the standard treatments.

Does radiation therapy for lung cancer improve survival rates?

Yes. Radiation is used in curing lung cancer. Its used in varying combinations with surger and chemotherapy to find the best treatment for each stage and type of lung cancer. It is not used in every case of lung cancer to accomplish the desired effect. Stage one for example requires no radiation and would not help the survival if the patient has surgery with lobectomy.
Yes. It improves survival significantly in stage 1-3 lung cancers. Cyberknife provides survival similar to surgery in stage 1 patients. For stage 2-3 patients, both chemo and radiation may be used to improve survival. In certain patients with stage 4 cancer (such as with spread to the brain) radiation may help improve survival.
Role Varies. If you have had an operation, there is no role for XRT in stage I or stage ii. If medistinal lymph nodes are involved, chemotherapy is in order, and you may benefit from radiotherapy to the chest. When you cannot or don't have surgery, some astounding results with hi tech, hi fraction raiotherapy. For stage ii, (+ hilar nodes), i'd be very careful with claims!

Is radiation therapy for lung cancer painful?

No. Radiation itself is not painful but can have side effects such as tiredness, skin irritation, cough, shortness of breath and low blood counts.
Possibly. Radiation is painless during the treatments. If the esophagus is in the treatment fields it can cause a painful condition called esophagitis about 3 weeks into the treatment. This is worse when a patient also takes chemotherapy. There are medicines that help this discomfort and when treatment is done it should resolve.
Possibly. It depends on what tissues are treated by the path of the beam. By itself, it is not painful. But, it can interact with tissue over time to cause irritation. The esophagus is the first thing one can cause irritation with that is significant: so swallowing can hurt. This is an organ thereofore we try to avoid. Skin too can be affected, but more with protons than photons. Each case is unique.

Are there different types of radiation therapy for lung cancer?

Yes. High-energy x-rays are the most common. Usually generated by the linear accelerator. It can be given over 6- 7 weeks daily for a curitive intent, 2-3 weeks for palliation, 3-5 fraction using radiosurgery linear accelator base or cyberknife radiosurgery for cure. Other forms of radiation are protons, high dose rate brachytherapy. These are less often used.
Yes. There is standard anterior posterior high energy beams. There is intensity modulated radiation. There is stereotactic radiosurgery. There can be intrabronchial brachytherapy. The radiation oncologist will decide which one is best for each patient.
While there. May be a variety of technologies, the fundamental is depositing energy into a defined target, and limiting the dose to tissues that are more sensitive. Intent can be to eliminaate the cancer, or to relieve symptoms that it causes. We were stuck at 60 gy for 40 years, but now that we can get higher doses, not sure they are better. Sbrt obliterates but the target is small.

What is the best treatment for esophageal pain from lung cancer radiation therapy?

Time. Pain medication, topical anesthetic spray and special mouth wash have been used to relief the pain. Go to see your radiation and medical oncologist and discuss with them about this issue- they will be able to help. The pain will gradually subside and go away. It is just a matter of time. I know it must have been tough for you, but hang in there. It will be better.
A few hints. Nothing totally counteracts the pain. It is helpful to favor soft or liquid foods; avoid very hot or cold drinks; try to maintain your weight as best you can; liquid hydrocodone helps; Carafate (sucralfate) sometimes helps; liquid antacid before meals helps; viscous Lidocaine helps; anti-fungals like Nystatin liquid often help; often a feeding tube is needed; clears in 2-3 wks after radiation.
Radiation Esophagtis. You can use antacids to control the acid washing up from the stomach as well as meds such as nexium (esomeprazole).I also have a liquid mix that will topically numb the surface temporarily. Taking pain medicine on a regular basis say every 4 to 6 hours will help a lot. And last but not least a break from treatment is sometimes the best of all options.

What is the best treatment for esophageal problems from lung cancer radiation therapy?

Several different. Radiation can cause inflammation and irritation of the esophagus which can lead to secondary fungal infections. Long term it is possible the esophagus will develop scar and feelings of food getting stuck. Remedies include liquid medicine for inflammation and fungal infection. For strictures endoscopy with dilation. And of course pain medicine is always helpful.
Depends. The esophagus may receive doses of radiation that can cause inflammation, pain, strictures and fibrosis. Depending on the time course during or after treatment, your radiation oncologist (or GI doctor) will be able to help you with these side effects or complications. Pain medications, cytoprotectants, diet modifications, anti-acids, etc, can all help with short-term swallowing problems.

What can radiation therapy do for stage 3b lung cancer?

A lot. The updated long term results of rtog 9410 were published in 2011 in the journal of the national cancer institute. This study examined different regimens of radiation and chemotherapy in patients with stage iii lung cancer. They found that patients lived longer if they received chemotherapy and radiation at the same time as opposed to sequentially.
A lot. This stage is not resectable. If a patient has a good performance status chemo and radiation is use in hopes of curing the disease. Even if the cancer is not cured and progresses the idea is to slow it down. The patient may also have pain, bleeding or cough and these symptoms will improve because of treatment.
Goal is cure. If complete staging (pet and MRI brain) show no metastases, then treatment depends on why iiib - either b/c tumor is T4 or nodes are n3. If no nodes, and t4, may consider lower dose chemort followed by surgery. If n3, then full dose chemort alone. Unfortunately while goal is cure, only achieved in 20%. Get evaluated at an academic center for clinical trials, as many improvements being made!
It can shrink. The tumor. But is inferior to chemoradiotherapy. Surgery in iii-b does have anecdotes from selected case, but the treatment is chemoradiotherapy with intent to cure. Cure may be as high as 30%. Best wishes.