A Survivor Suffers from a Second Cancer
- Mandy Stewart, 53, suffered from back-to-back blows when she found out she had brain cancer after a motorist crashed into her vehicle.
- The grandmother-of-two just beat lung cancer in March, and doctors believe her brain tumor could be from secondary cancer.
- Lung cancer metastasis to the brain is common. Metastasis refers to the occurrence of a secondary cancer being found in a different location than the primary diagnosis. This happens when some of the cancer cells move from the original cancer site to another part of the body.
- Though Mandy did not notice any symptoms of her brain cancer, things to look out for include blurry vision, loss of coordination, difficulty walking, limb weakness, along with stroke.
“The doctors wanted to check her neck so they sent her away for a scan and it picked up this dark growth,” daughter Suzanne, 22, told the Daily Record. “When the MRI results came back saying it was cancer we were devastated.”Read More
“It is advanced,” Suzanne shared. “The doctors said there is nothing to do and they don’t know how long she has left. My mum decided she didn’t want to go through chemotherapy.”
“She is thankful the cancer was picked up but she really doesn’t deserve any of this,” she added. Doctors told the family that this could actually be a secondary cancer for Mandy—lung cancer spreading to the brain.
“My mum is at the centre of the family, we all dote on her,” the heartbroken daughter said of her mom, who apparently experienced zero symptoms of any of this.
“She has good days and bad days. She’s wheelchair-bound now and relies on other aids such as a mobility scooter and a chair lift to get about the house. She’s very open about her condition with the grandkids so that they’re not scared.”
Now, the family is just focusing on doing as many memorable activities together as possible with her time left. Like many courageous advanced cancer patients, Mandy has a “bucket list” that she intends to check items off of while she is still active.
“She is the strongest woman I’ve ever known and has done so much for so many people.”
Brain Cancer as a Secondary Cancer
Lung cancer metastasis to the brain is common.
Metastasis refers to the occurrence of a secondary cancer being found in a different location than the primary diagnosis. This happens when some of the cancer cells move from the original cancer site to another part of the body. The brain, which is part of the central nervous system (CNS), is a common site of metastasis for many cancer types. In fact, the majority of CNS tumors are metastasized from another primary cancer type.
A cohort study found that approximately 16% of lung cancer patients develop brain metastases within 5 years of diagnosis. The lifetime risk of developing brain mets after a lung cancer diagnosis is estimated to be roughly 50%. Many patients already have brain mets when they are initially diagnosed with lung cancer. The existence of brain mets upon initial diagnosis is indicative of Stage 4 cancer. This has a significant impact on lung cancer life expectancy.
There are two main types of lung cancer:
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
Although SCLC is the less common lung cancer type, it has a higher occurrence of cancer spreading to the brain than NSCLC. However, this may be due to the fact that SCLC is usually in the later (severe) stages by the time it is diagnosed. NSCLC is often diagnosed earlier in the progression of the disease, before brain metastasis has had the opportunity to likely occur.
Though Mandy did not notice any symptoms of her brain cancer, things to look out for include blurry vision, loss of coordination, difficulty walking, limb weakness, along with stroke.
Please get in to see a doctor immediately if any of these symptoms occur.
Contributing by SurvivorNet staff.