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What led to your diagnosis?


Guest spaceyjane

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Guest spaceyjane

Hi everyone.. thank you first for being here. I have a head swimming with questions. Can you all tell me what led up to your diagnosis (or your loved one) with lung cancer? How did it play out, if that makes sense?

The reason I ask, is that my 74 year old father who has been a heavy smoker for over 50 years recently had a physical (after decades where he never sought medical attention). He had bloodwork done and was referred for a chest x-ray which showed "a spot on his lungs". This was done last Tuesday, and then they scheduled him for a CT scan which was completed last Friday. As of now we are awaiting those CT results (how long will those take anyway?).

I guess my question is how often does what appears as "a spot on the lungs" on a chest xray come back after futher testing with a diagnosis of lung cancer? And, what all was seen in your case as you first came along this journey of discovering that you had lung cancer.

I don't know if just the waiting for the further answers is what's making my head swim, of if it's the enormity of what lung cancer is... I almost regret getting on the internet to research it, because it's just SO and because I don't have any definitive answers, I'm nealry numb and blank by it all.

As you have time, please share with me what your experiences have been, and any other information you think might be helpful. I sincerely appriciate your time, and after lurking here to read some of the posts, am truly inspired by the community you all have made here to strengthen one another.

hugs....

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Hi Jane, sorry to hear about your dad's situation! Hope it's not cancer!! My mom's ordeal with cancer started with a cough that just wouldn't go away, and was diagnosed initially by an a spot that showed up on her x-ray after going to see her doctor. The following week, she had a CT scan and received the results on the same day, so your father should have his results back by now. After the CT scan, a needle biopsy was ordered to confirm if the tumor/spot on the CT was in fact cancer and if so, what type of cancer. And once it was confirmed to be cancer, she immediately had a Pet Scan to identify the stage of her cancer. Since her official diagnosis of cancer on January 31, life became a vacuum of emotions for my family and me, and just settled down last week when mom's first post-surgery Pet Scan came back clean, or showed NED!

Please know that there is the possibility that the spot found on your dad's lung could be something other than cancer! My mom was a smoker for 30 years before she quit in 1988. She developed emphysema, and over the last 10 years or so before we heard that she had the dreaded C word, she had a couple of false alarms with unusual spots, which ended up being abscesses, that showed up on her lung xrays.

Waiting for the answers can be very trying, and sometimes you have to push to get them. I hope your dad gets a good result!!!!!!

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My cancer was found by accident. I had a ct scan of my abdominal area for a different issue, and a possible nodule was seen in my lower left lung. I had a chest ct scan a few months later and a large mass was found in my upper left lobe. I had a bronchscopy which was inconclusive, a lung needle biopsy which was inconclusive, a PET scan which showed uptake and pointed to the mass being malignant, a biopsy which showed malignancy and immediately after the biopsy of my mass and lymph nodes, my upper left lung was removed.

The ct scan will give better information about your dad's spot. If the ct scan shows it to be a spot bigger than 1 cm, the radiologist may say that it is suspicous for malignancy. Then your dad may undergo the bronchoscopy and/or lung needle biopsy. Sometimes a mediastinoscopy is done to check out the lymph nodes for malignancy in the mediastinal area, between the lungs. There will probably be a PET scan done too, to see if there are any other possible malignancies and to see if the spot has uptake. The uptake is an indicator of high celluar activity. A lung infection as well as a tumor can show uptake. A PET scan is also useful for detecting malignant lymph nodes.

In my case, there was no actual proof of malignancy until I had my lobectomy.

At this point, all you can do is guess and worry about what it is. The chances are 50-50 that it is nothing. Just try to not obsess about it until you get better information.

I hope it is nothing.

Don M

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Hi Jane, sorry about your dad's situation and praying it is 'something else'. My mom's cancer was also found by accident. She is 78 and had to have a complete physical to get the go ahead for cataract surgery. She also had a bad cough going on (worse than her usual emphysema cough)and her doc had prescribed some antibiotics as he suspected some type of upper respiratory infection. Her chest xray came back with a 'shadow' and she was sent for a CT scan on a Friday. Her results were also back that same day, showing a 10cm mass, and she had an appointment with a pulmonologist that following Monday. Mom's general practioner said the mass could have been scar tissue from a previous infection or some type of bacterial infection but the pulmonologist took one look at the x-ray and said he was 95% sure it was cancer and the bronchoscope that same week confirmed it and told us what type. She also had a PET scan that week to determine if it had spread.

You should have the results of the CT scan by now. Don't be afraid to call and follow up or ask when they will have an answer. (They may not give you info directly if your dad's paperwork did not list you as a contact.) It may be someting minor but you will just sit there and worry until you know for sure. And if it is cancer I'm sure you want to start fighting it off as soon as possible.

Hang in there! Karen

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Hi and welcome spaciejane. You did not mention where you are. How long it takes sometimes depends what country or state you are in. I am glad you Dad's doctor is screening him The sad truth is that there are no early symtoms generally for lung cancer. It is the only major cancer that there is no accepted screening done for and generally because of this it is found late.

In my on case my tumor was in a spot pressing on a nerve so I had pain. Generally pain is a late symtom.

The reason the CT is not used as a screening tool is because it picks up swollen lymph nodes etc that are not cancer so it must be either watched and done again in a few months to compare or it must be biopsied to know for sure. Please keep us posted how your Dad's tests come out.

Donna G

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I recently read an article at MSNBC Health about a government-sponsored study of chest X-rays and lung cancer that was done on seemingly healthy 55- to 74-year-olds. Here's how the article started out:

"Use of routine chest X-rays to hunt lung cancer leads to frequent false alarms, but when tumors are found they tend to be early-stage, say preliminary results of the biggest study ever to address lung-cancer screening."

It then went on to address the study and it's results:

"Of the more than 77,000 people screened, doctors spotted something suspicious on the X-rays of 5,991, almost 9 percent, researchers reported Tuesday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Patients were sent back to their regular doctors for repeat X-rays, CT scans or other evaluations, and 206 wound up undergoing a biopsy.

Ultimately, 126 people were diagnosed with lung cancer — 2 percent of the initially suspicious X-rays.

Importantly, 44 percent of the cancers were in the disease’s earliest stage...."

Now, in my opinion, that's a lot of false positives. Chances are your dad's could be nothing, too, even though he was a smoker for many years. Every situation is different. The important thing is that your dad was examined while he was in good health and had no symptoms. So, even if it does turn out that your dad has lung cancer, chances are good that they caught it at an early stage.

Keep in touch, and all the best to you and your dad.

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Guest spaceyjane

Thank you ALL so much for sharing your valuable information. My parents live in Roseburg, Oregon and his doctor doesn't have Friday afternoon hours, so they were hoping to hear results early this week from the CT scan done at 1:30pm on last Friday. As of yet, no news, but I'll talk to my mom and encourage her to call. Somewhere inside me I doubt that she will and instead will wait until they call.

I find encouragement in your answers... and I pray for your hearts to know you've been helpful to me!

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spaceyjane

Mine was discovered by accident also.

They were looking for reasons for my

arthritis pain. I had several x-rays at

various angles and a spot showed up on one

of the films.

I had surgery to remove the "spot" and

that's when they discovered it was cancer.

They weren't positive it was cancer until

they actually got in there to remove it.

I was given the option of chemo or not and

I chose to take it.

Kathy

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It seems a lot of us (well, my dad, not me) are diagnosed by accident. Dad had bronchitis. Our family doctor did an x-ray, based on a "feeling". Next thing we know, dad is on his way to the hospital. My mom said to the doctor "it's just pnemonia, right" and he says, "it's unlike any pnemonia I've ever seen" and we knew. That night they did a CT scan. The next day they did a needle biopsy and confirmed what we all, in our hearts, already knew. I thank God every day for that case of pnemonia (he did have a minor case of it). Note that my dad had symptoms other than a spot on the xray. He had some facial swelling, shortness of breath, etc... Yet the cancer had not really even spread at that point.

I hope for you and your dad that it is not cancer but please know that if it is, as long as you have hope you have a chance. We've had some rough times in the last 7 1/2 weeks but my heart says we'll be okay. My family all went through the numbness, the fear. We came out of it shortly after diagnosis and did what needed to be done... Best wishes to you and your family. You're in my thoughts, as is everyone on this board. (I don't post much but read often and think of everyone constantly).

Lisa

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My diagnosis was the result of a routine chest x-ray. That led to a CT, and then a PET, and then surgery.

Abnormalities showing up on the lungs are very common, and, as I understand, one of the arguments against routine screening for lung cancer. It is because so many times a false positive comes up from all the non-invasive testing, but there is no way to tell for sure until an invasive, painful procedure is performed, and then a lot of those are negative, thereby putting the patient through a lot of misery for nothing.

However, early detection is critical, so I think that the medical community is caught between the rock and the hard place with this at the moment.

I hope this turns out to be nothing in your case. A lot of them do.

Cindy

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My diagnosis was the result of a routine chest x-ray. That led to a CT, and then a PET, and then surgery.

Abnormalities showing up on the lungs are very common, and, as I understand, one of the arguments against routine screening for lung cancer. It is because so many times a false positive comes up from all the non-invasive testing, but there is no way to tell for sure until an invasive, painful procedure is performed, and then a lot of those are negative, thereby putting the patient through a lot of misery for nothing.

However, early detection is critical, so I think that the medical community is caught between the rock and the hard place with this at the moment.

I hope this turns out to be nothing in your case. A lot of them do.

Cindy

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Welcome Jane (not sure about the spacie part :? ),

One of the first things we here have all needed to do................and recommend to newcomers...............is to take a step back and also take some deep breaths. It is SO easy to get the cart before the horse here. As difficult as it is ~~ and we all KNOW how difficult it is ~~ try your best to be patient until you have received actual results from the scans. If you need to call......do it.....but trying to speculate will get you nowhere but frustrated and anxious REAL fast, ya know?

There are so many different ways LC is detected......from no symptoms to coughing to pain to SOB (shortness of breath) that knowing that won't really be of much help to you right now. PLEASE come back and let us know the results and we can help you start your journey from there.

Kasey

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Welcome Jane,

Sorry you and your family are going through this anxiety and worry. I pray that what is showing on the X-ray is not Lung Cancer. But, if it is, and there is just the one isolated spot there is still reason to be very optimistic. An early diagnosis can qualify for surgery and a cure. There are many many survivors out there of lung cancer, it's not easy but they are out there doing it.

My husband's cancer was also found because of pneumonia. He had gone into the ER because of back pain and sudden fever and flu symptoms. He was kept overnight and told he had severe pneumonia because fluid (dark spots) were seen on his chest X-ray filling over 1/2 of his lungs. They gave him antibiotics which did help, he felt better shortly. They scheduled him for a follow-up about 3 months later to confirm the antibiotics completely got rid of the pneumonia. The follow-up chest X-ray showed that there were the majority of the same spots showing in the same positions and sizes. That ruled it out as being fluid (some spots that were fluid and minor pneumonia where gone) and something more solid and stationary. That started the biopsies and CT scans, MRIs bone scans etc... Unfortunately the results were as you can read below. :cry:

Hope your scans go well, and show no LC. I will be keeping your family in my prayers

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I am so sorry to hear about your Dad's situation. My dad had pneumonia that was covering up a very fast growing tumor. Over the period of a few months, probably 6 or 7, his breath had grown shorter and shorter. He just thought he was getting old. He went in and thank goodnesss for the pneumonia, as that made them see it. A spot on the lungs could be a number of things, and no matter what, you as a family should stay strong, and know there is a huge support system out there for you. This is an amazing site. Welcome, and God bless.

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Guest spaceyjane

I really thank you all for giving the support and encouragement that you did. You really helped me to remain hopeful for good results, and sure enough, I was pulling the cart before the horse! His results came back clear with no evidence of cancer at all, only an inflammation of one lung due to what the doctorst think is high blood pressure and the emphysema.

In all, he feels a new lease given on life at 74 years of age, and with him currently in the fight to end his addiction to smoking, we're all going to win.

I'm still so amazed that it came back clear.

Thank you doesn't seem like enough to say for the support and answers you all gave me. You all served as a light to me... out of a tunnel vision that I was in.

thank you,

again and again!

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I'm so happy to hear that wonderful news! I can imagine how relieved you both must be. Thank you for keeping us posted and letting us know the good news. And best of luck to your dad, so that he may win his battle with smoking. He's off to a great start!

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