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covid and lung cancer


ladder

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are there any similarities that anyone has read of? i am about to go get checked for lung cancer soon as i have had some strange aches/pains in my back and ribs since the end of december. i am 45 years old and have smoked for over 25 years, i'm guessing that is going to end after this cancer scare whether i have it or not.

 

here's the thing - i am pretty certain i had caught covid last feb/march. we didn't really have tests to go around yet if you recall, except for hospital staff and others. at the time they had told us to quarantine a couple weeks if we think we may have been exposed. so i did. and i caught symptoms within a couple days, starting with a ticklish cough, but a few days later the worst symptom - shortness of breath stayed with me for a few days. it resolved pretty much as they said it would. a few days of breathing issues and feeling like my teeshirts were tight around my neck. a bunch more symptoms tbh, just nothing as notable as the attack on my lungs. strange headache for a day or two, digestive tract felt a bit off, i even think it inflammed my heartsack. all things considered i would have called it a moderate case, never caught a fever but had symptoms as described.

 

i have a question or two and hoping for a little advice as well. has anyone read or heard anything about confusing what might normally be lung cancer symptoms with the effects of covid? it's hard to google as everything that comes up is the danger of covid to lung cancer patients.

 

also, how should i approach getting scanned for cancer? i will be getting a primary doctor soon and have only sought medical attention from urgent care as necessary most of my adult life. if this is happening how do i make sure i will be properly scanned so they don't miss anything? i have read that insurance doesn't want to pay to get you a CT scan unless there is something that will force them to. any advice on choosing a primary doctor?  i haven't had one since i was a child.

 

ps: my symptoms - starting about a month ago, i started noticing a strange feeling in the middle of my spine as well as sometimes on my right lower rib area, sometimes on my left rib area sometimes in my back in the ribs.

full disclosure i have still been smoking, and actually have smoked (and drank) more during the last year than normal. i'm giving myself until after the superbowl to enjoy these two vices. the cigarette quit for life and the alcohol quit for a reasonable amount of time. mainly since drinking makes me want to smoke, but also bc i did way too much drinking this last year. 2021 needs to be a healthy year, whether i'm battling cancer or just getting my lungs and general health back.

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Hi there,

I'd suggest first getting a referral/appointment with a pulmonologist. They are the experts on all things lung-related. 

At age 45, you are most likely not eligible to have insurance cover a screening scan. But if the pulmonologist thinks your symptoms warrant it, s/he can order one for you, and in that case it would be considered diagnostic and should be covered by insurance. Even if you can't get insurance to pay, though, the out-of-pocket cost for a screening scan (low-dose CT scan) is only around $200 or so.

Your top priority right now should be getting off the cigarettes. No judgment here--I smoked heavily for 40 years and switched to vaping about a year before my first diagnosis in 2017. My doctors considered me, despite the vaping, a "nonsmoker," but even though it isn't the nicotine that causes cancer, I learned there is reason to suspect (no hard proof) that nicotine MIGHT encourage tumor growth, so I'm now down to zero nicotine.

And I ditched the drinking 12 years ago--also a good decision. 

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Dear Ladder: Welcome to our site.

First of all regarding cancer the best advise I can give you is to seek help at a cancer center/oncologist where they have routine cancer scanning and are more familiar with cancer symptoms.  A better solution is to go to the emergency room where they will do PT scans/Xrays and even tests to determine if you have cancer. 

Second and I don't mean to be too direct, the excuses you used to stop smoking are too familiar because I used them 40 years ago. As a matter of fact I can write a book full of excuses about quitting smoking. None of them made sense and none of them is valid. The best and only time to quit smoking is right now.  

I wish you the best.

 

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hey thanks, all this is great advice! i'm a little lost when it comes to health insurance/doctors. i stopped paying for blue cross in the late 2000s when, after never using it for the couple years i paid for it, i figured they would pay for seeing a doctor about a possible brown recluse bite. they didn't pay so i stopped paying them. i had NO CLUE how insurance worked, lol. i guess i figured if i paid every month they would cover the bill when i went to the doctor.

 

anyway i got blue cross through the aca marketplace at the end of the year figuring that with covid around it would be smart to have it. so thanks again for the help. i already had figured out a few weeks ago how to find primary care doctors that they cover. coverage for me just kicked in a few days ago so i am looking forward to seeing some doctors and either finding out what is going on one way or another. i ALSO now understand how health insurance works, and won't be surprised about having to pay some $$$ before insurance does.

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Ladder,

I totally agree with Lexie and Gary. I was a long term smoker and ironically I quit (cold turkey) about a month before being diagnosed with lung cancer. I am a career Army officer and was exposed to asbestos in my younger years, Saddam's oil fires during ODS&S, all manner of horrible smoke in Mogadishu, Somalia and Haiti. So I can't be absolutely sure my lung cancer results from cigarettes, but it doesn't matter. February 4, 2004, I was diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer and my only symptom was coughing up blood. If you want some help finding the will to quit, read my book "Scanziety: A Retrospection of a Lung Cancer Survivor". It is published on the Kindle site at Amazon.

Lung cancer generally presents without symptoms. If your bone pain in the spine and ribs is lung cancer related, then you'll need to see a doctor pronto, like right now! Lexie is right. See a pulmonologist if one is available. If not, see a GP. Either can order a low dose CT scan. Many clinics are offering low dose CT scans, including the cost to interpret the scan, at about $200. Get the low dose CT--now! Stop smoking--now!

I pray you don't have lung cancer.

Stay the course.

Tom

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thanks man! this is all such good info, especially knowing i can still get a ct scan for a couple hundred if insurance won't pay.

as far as the asbestos, that's what worries me personally. my sister says she thinks our childhood home had asbestos which is why my mother died from lung cancer. she didn't smoke either.

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Hey Ladder. As usual you have already received some great feedback. However no one answered your COVID question.

I remember early on in the Pandemic they were using CT scans to diagnose COVID and the scans looked eerily similar to Lung Cancer. In fact, most nodules picked up by a low dose CT scan turn out not to be cancer.

My advice, FWIW, is to make sure your doc knows you suspect you had the Wuhan virus in June.

Fingers crossed

Peace

Tom

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yeah, that's what i'm wondering. lung cancer is a possibility, but i did take some damage from the covid. the heart sack infection i think i had, hard to tell if that's what it was aside from just the feeling, did resolve a month or so later when i started getting more outdoor exercise. but i've been left with a chronic cough all year since. just need a professional to get a look inside. the cough is basically the same smokers hack i've had as a smoker just more of it i guess. i think whether we consider ourselves long haulers or not there are lingering effects of the disease. 

anyway you look at it i'm sure happy i found this site. the big C has been on my mind this last week or two.

 

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I really pray that you follow up on your symptoms .  I saw a doctor for shoulder pain

and chest pain I thought was muscle pain from unpacking my house moving in --

They found a tumor  in the apex of my right upper lobe. 

I read above about asbestos exposure .  There is a company advertising here that if you have lung cancer

and a history of exposure you can  sue for money .   My husband was in the Navy aboard 2 ships under construction 

and asbestos .    Guess who washed his uniforms covered with it all over it,  ME .  My husband died of lung cancer in 2013.  

I survived .     Please update us on your findings.

Donna G

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Donna

Have you followed up on the asbestos angle? I see the same commercial 5 times a day (atleast) and have been tempted to call more than once. Worked in heavy chemical manufacturing my entire life surrounded by asbestos.

Just curious 

Tom

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I believe all those commercials refer to mesothelioma, which is a very specific type of cancer that is caused ONLY by asbestos. I think any of us who have gotten to the point of treatment have cancer that's identified as lung cancer, not mesothelioma. 

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56 minutes ago, LexieCat said:

I believe all those commercials refer to mesothelioma, which is a very specific type of cancer that is caused ONLY by asbestos. I think any of us who have gotten to the point of treatment have cancer that's identified as lung cancer, not mesothelioma. 

Lexi

No. This one is for Lung Cancer. I worked with two guys who passed due to mesothelioma. Probably a long shot tho.

I might give it a go.

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  No I never followed up with that company .   I had NSCLC .   My husband 's spread to his brain before he had a biopsy.

He had symptoms of falling down so they did a spinal tap and only told me he had cancer there causing irritation and the dizzyness.

They told me it was not treatable and he died in a week.   Since that was almost 8 years ago and not enough info what would be the use of doing that.   

Donna G

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Hope you get in and get that scan soon to resolve your fears. Good luck with quitting smoking❤️

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To supplement what others have already said, here is my story. My Stage 3b lung cancer is presumed to have been caused by 9/11 because I was an office worker in the "exposure zone" in Lower Manhattan before and after 9/11. Although the EPA declared the air "safe", the toxic particulate matter (including asbestos and heavy metals) persisted in the air for months. Eighteen years after the event, I was diagnosed. 

As LexieCat notes, low-dose CT scans run about $200 without insurance. It sounds like you would benefit from annual screenings if cancer is not currently found. The earlier lung cancer is detected, the better the outcome. Smokers are also very susceptible to the effects of radon, so you might also want to get your home tested. I believe there are inexpensive tests easily available. 

@Donna G, the Navy now takes asbestos exposure seriously. My nephew has joined the Navy and is getting his masters degree in industrial health. Once he is assigned, he will inspect ships and other installations for health threats and will make recommendations for remediation. I'm so proud that he'll be keeping our sailors safe. Unfortunately, this comes too late for you and your husband. My condolences for your loss. 

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