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decision time


Carole H.

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I have been diagnosed with non small cell cancer: The single tumor is quite large at 4.5 ct. I could chose the invasive operation that may or may not mean cured, or radiation that would be less traumatic. I am in fairly good health, but I am 80 years old. The dilemma is obvious. I have good support but hesitate on frightening surgery. any thoughts?

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Hi, Carole, and welcome!  If the surgeons deem you fit for surgery, it is the BEST way to ensure that the cancer does not come back.  No, it isn't a guarantee, but it's more likely to be curative than any other treatment.  If you can't tolerate surgery, physically, radiation (cyberknife or SBRT) are both good options.

The surgery really is quite simple, especially if you are a candidate for VATS (laparoscopic surgery).  I had three tiny incisions, and was back on my feet and feeling fine in no time.  

If you've got good support and the docs say you can handle it, I'd opt for the surgery every time.

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LexieCat, This is certainly what is recommended by my oncologist. However, I recently went through another operation that meant a 5 day hospital treatment and I am hospital shy I guess..

Thanks very much for your input, it helps my decision.

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Well, unless there is a complication, VATS generally involves a 2-3 day stay at most.  My doc was ready to send me home the day after but since I live alone I decided to give it one more day.  I DID have a complication (minor one) that required me to go back in for another 3-4 days, but that's somewhat unusual.  They get you up and walking around hours after surgery.  And if you have someone to help at home, that would likely get you home even sooner.

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Carol,

Neither surgery nor radiation is a sure thing cure. Lung cancer often recurs and therefore we seek a medical finding of no evidence of disease (NED).

You mentioned your oncologist suggests surgery. Have you engaged a thoracic surgeon for his or her opinion?  As you mentioned, a 4.5 cm mass is large and size and location will dictate the surgical technique.  If you can have a VATs procedure, it would be much easier than a posterolateral thoracotomy incision. 

Welcome here. This is the place for questions. 

Stay the course. 

Tom

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I agree with both LexieCat and Tom. If you haven't seen a surgeon, I think it's a good idea to see one before you make up your mind. Have you had lung function testing yet? That might help to determine your fitness for surgery.  I know what you mean about surgery being scary!  If you are a candidate for VATs or robotic surgery, those are fairly easy, as far as surgeries go.  

bridget O

 

 

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I just read this thread, and it makes me realize that we come here and talk about lung cancer, but we don't talk about the other things that are wrong with us.  I found myself saying to a friend, that lung cancer may eventually kill me, but my degenerative disc disease in my back in what makes me feel like I don't mind that Idea so much!  I think decisions about what treatments we will put ourselves through, and endure, have a lot to do with other medical issues besides the cancer itself.  I am in so much pain with my back most of the time, that it is hard to function. I am having surgery next Friday for lung cancer, and honestly, I am more worried about how I am going handle the pain in my back laying in and getting out of bed, after surgery than I am the pain of the surgery.  Right now, I use my arms and my arm strength to aid myself in getting in and out of bed, after surgery, I won't be able to do that for awhile.  I am 70, honestly, it is hard for me to imagine what my back will feel like in 10 years?  The spine surgeon says that they really can't do much for me until I start falling down from the condition of my back. Like, I should be grateful to still be walking,  guess?  What is the old adage?  Old age is not for the faint hearted.  That is sure the truth!! 

I mean we come here for information and the benefit of others experience in regard to lung cancer and to know that we are not alone and thank God for the site and the people who spend the time to do this. But, I guess there is just so much that goes into our decision making in regard to cancer treatment. These certainly are not easy decisions to make and I think as we get older they get harder. 

But despite the condition of my back, I will have surgery next Friday, because there is a good chance that this could be all of it and they can get rid of it and I can go on. How much beyond that I will go if that isn't all of it??? I don't know? 

These are hard decisions for a whole lot of reasons, and we are the only ones that can make them, with a little help from our friends.

Good luck 

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I am new here today. Yours is the first blog i have read. I am 69 and agree with you. Hope all goes well. I never knew we would be such warriors. I had an oncologist who was proactive on related pain. She was with the VA. We had gone thru all FDA approved treatments and suggested i try clinical trial. So monthly i make a 1500 mile trip for an infusion. Wow. I feel like leftover laundry hanging on a line. 

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Hi PIP, I also have degenerative disk disease as well as arthritis in my spine. Mine is nowhere near as severe as yours. But I have pain and stiffness in the morning which have made it painful to get out of bed -- once I'm up and about, I'm generally OK. I saw a physical therapist who taught me a better way to get out of bed, which helps a lot. Have you seen a PT?

HI Whoknew and welcome! If you feel comfortable  telling us more about yourself and your treatment, I suggest you start a thread under Introduce Youself. I'd love to hear more about your clinical trial.

Bridget O

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Carole,

Your decision to undergo surgery will be based on what your thoracic surgeon tells you. I have had both surgeries (VATS for my first mass (Removed lower left lobe and the mass which was 8+cm) and then the second mass had to be done by the more invasive thoracotomy (which removed a 9+cm mass and upper right lobe). The surgeon, in both cases, said she would attempt VATS but if it wasn't possible would have to do the other surgery. So, there is no guarantee. Recovery is not easy and even though my second surgery was Oct 24, 2017, I still get tired after working all day, feel discomfort around my rib cage constantly. I had chemo afterwards. It's a difficult decision, but you have to weigh the pros and cons and make the best decision for yourself!. I was 61 at the time of my diagnosis and surgeries. Any other questions, feel free to ask.

 

Ro

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