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Just diagnosed with lung cancer


Cindy S

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I think the answer is "it depends". For early stage lung cancer surgery is usually the first line of treatment and often nothing else is needed. If a person is not able to have surgery for some reason, sometimes SBRT, a form of precisely focused radiation, is used instead. For later stage lung cancer, lobectomy is often not an option and radiation is sometimes used in conjunction with chemo or other systemic treatiments. 

If you're comfortable telling us more about your situation, some of us might be able to give some suggestions.

Bridget O

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This is early stage. I just talked to a thoracic surgeon who does the lobectomy and he said I have the option of radiation. Any advice on which way to go? This is all new to me. How fast do you recover from a lobectomy?

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I researched this quite a bit, and everything I read says surgery is the way to go, unless for some reason surgery is dangerous or unlikely to be successful (tumor location; other lung problems or health problems, etc.).  Even though radiation (SBRT/Cyberknife) can be effective, surgery is the best shot at removing all of the cancer and avoiding a recurrence.

I had VATS lobectomy, too, and I was back at work (desk job) two weeks later.  I had a minor complication that put me back in the hospital for a few days right after going home (not dangerous but uncomfortable), and even with that, my recovery was very fast.  I was going out with friends and taking walks to help my breathing a couple weeks after surgery.  Very little pain, and I've noticed zero effects on my breathing.

Given the choice, I'd go for the surgery any day.

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Thank you that is very helpful. I was kind of leaning that way after doing a little online research. This is such a scary thing to be faced with. All of the input I can get will be helpful and reassuring.

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It's completely normal to be scared.  Lung cancer is scary!  But if you are lucky enough to be early stage, there's a good chance that it doesn't have to define the rest of your life.  Even though we don't talk about "cure" (because it's a tricky and persistent disease that sometimes comes back), they do talk about surgery as a "curative" treatment, and in many cases that's what it is.  It's been a little over a year since my surgery and I'm hopeful that this is it, in terms of the cancer.  I go for regular scans to make sure it stays that way (and to catch any recurrence at an early stage), but I'm realistically hopeful that I'm done with treatment.

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Hi again, Cindy,

I had my lobectomy in November 2016. It was done by VATS. I was released from the hospital the following day with a chest drain tube in place. This was needed  because my lung was leaking air. Often they keep people in the hospital as long as they have a drain tube, but I was happy to be going home. My recovery was fast. I was up and walking around my neighborhood in a couple of days with a big raincoat on to cover the chest tube and drain. I had the tube in for 10 days. While it was in I had some pain if I moved the wrong way (which I quickly figured out not to do). I used some opiod pain meds, but once the tube was out, I didn't need them. As soon as the tube was out and I was off the pain meds, I was OK to drive. I'm retired, so no job to go back to. I would say I was back to most of my normal activities about a week after the tube was out, except for my water aerobics. 

So I would say my recovery was pretty easy and would have been even easier if I hadn't had the darned air leak! I go for regular scans, same as LexieCat, and so far, so good. I feel well, no pain at all and my lung capacity is good. 

Not everybody's surgery is as easy as mine and LexieCat's, but with VATS it often is, Tradiational open surgery (thoracotomy) can be more difficulet.

Surgery seems like a good idea if it's an option for you. If you have other questions, or if you want tips about how to prepare for surgery and how to be more comfortable afterwards, just say so! We're here for you.

Bridget O

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  • 3 weeks later...

Cindy,

You've got some good advice.  My thought is surgery is a good first treatment.  Depending on the type of radiation used, one may not be able to have surgery after radiation.  So I'd hold radiation in reserve.

I'm praying with you.

Stay the course.

Tom

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