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Question on recovery of lung function


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Here's a question for those of you who were NSCLC Stage IIIB or IV with pleural effusion, then had good success with chemo or radiation treatments ("success" meaning the cancer was either eliminated or significantly reduced): How much lung function did you eventually recover? If you did not recover all of the function, what was the reason given?


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Hi -

Chemo usually improves lung function by reducing tumor size, but radiation can have mixed effects. Radiation can shrink the tumor but cause loss of elasticity in the lung tissue, which decreases lung function. Even things that do not significantly decrease lung function, like minor loss of lung elasticity, can potentially cause shortness of breath, though. The usual response to shortness of breath is to decrease your level of physical activity, but this is actually counterproductive, and causes further losses.

One of the more baffling questions in pulmonary disease is why some people have shortness of breath with relatively small losses of lung function and others have significant declines in lung function, but less breathlessness. That is, the relationship between pulmonary function and breathlessness is inconsistent.

So really, rather than lung function itself, the more important question is how short of breath you are and how you can gradually change that through rehabilitation methods like exercise and breathing techniques. If you have access to a pulmonary rehab. program, enroll in it. They are very helpful to people with lung cancer, although physicians often do not think to make the referral unless asked.

Best wishes to you and let us know how you are doing.

- Teresa

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  • 2 weeks later...


I had to take a pulmonary function test for the FAA. I was from 120% to 140% of predicted. The spirometric portion of the test was from normal to supernormal. So you can see you can regain full use of your lungs. I am sure you will be able to do the same.

Blue side up


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