Hi, I am new to this forum I just wanted to see if anyone could help me out. My mom has a pacemaker and was diagnosed with lung cancer. Her doctors told her they could not treat her with chemo or anything else because of the pacemaker, I was wondering if anyone had any info about this or could point me in the right direction of what I shoud do to get her treated. I am located in new york and am trying to get her into Sloan Kettering in the mean time. If anyone has any advice please let me know it would be greatly appreciated thanks



by Tracey_E - 2009-01-21 06:01:21

I've never heard that we can't have any traditional cancer treatments! MRI's are out of the question so that makes diagnosing a bit more challenging, but I've never heard that radiation or chemo were a problem.

Pacemaker & Cancer Treatment

by SMITTY - 2009-01-21 09:01:38


Welcome to the Pacemaker Club. I hope you get some useful information and enjoy your visits with us,

I agree chemo probably will not harm the pacemaker and should be okay for cancer treatment but radiation treatment may be another story. The following is one of several articles I found on this subject and they all say virtually the same thing.

"Diagnostic radiation (such as screening X-ray) appears to have no effect on pacemaker pulse generators. However, therapeutic radiation (such as for treating cancerous tumors) may damage the pacemaker's circuits. The degree of damage is unpredictable and may vary with different systems. But the risk is significant and builds up as the radiation dose increases. The American Heart Association recommends that the pacemaker be shielded as much as possible, and moved if it lies directly in the radiation field. If you depend on your pacemaker for normal heart pacing, the electrocardiogram (ECG) should be monitored during the treatment, and your pulse generator should be tested often after and between radiation sessions."

I'm sure Sloan Kettering will have the latest info on cancer treatment effect on a pacemaker and I hope you can get in there.

I wish your mother the best,


Radiation effect on pacer

by ElectricFrank - 2009-01-22 01:01:03

Smitty's post is right on. Radiation deteriorates semiconductor components in electronic circuits and it is dose dependent. The electronics in satellites or the Mars Rovers is specially radiation hardened to handle the effects of sun spots in space.

Pacemakers are so common these days that any competent cancer center should know how to handle it.

best wishes,



by BillMFl - 2009-01-23 10:01:44

My brand new Medtronic pm came with a very informative booklet. It said that radiation treatments that could be carefully focused so as not to radiate the pm were ok. Cyber knife is just one example and there are other types of focused beam radiation.. Suggest that you get a second opinion. Is it possible that she was turned down for a trial? Many of the trials exclude people for a variety of conditions that might skew the results. Patients can sometimes find the same treatments "off trial", but its often not easy. There is an NCI website that lists all current trials for various types and stages of cancer. You can usually contact the trial co-ordinator and find out if she would be acceptable or not.

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You have a 25 year mortgage on your device.

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