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Greetings all. I have been reading this forum today and getting some great information from all of you. My name is Mike and I am 59 years old and am from Perth in Australia. I was a pack a day smoker for over 40 years until I gave up two days ago (using a vape to help me on that journey). I have had a fairly juicy cough for many years but have always just put this down to a smokers cough. Have lost count of the amount of times I tried to give up. Last successful one was almost 6 years ago after my sister died from Ovarian cancer. I gave up for 9 months until out for dinner and drinks on the first anniversary of her death when a friend offered me a smoke and I stupidly accepted and the cycle began again. During that 9 months my cough disappeared.

On a recent visit to my doctor he suggested at my age it would be a good idea to get a calcium score to see how my arteries are going. I had the CT on 1st April (Will spell out dates as US and us have the opposite day and month order when using numbers). On the 3rd my doctor rang me and said he had a report from the scan and it doesn't look good as it states there is a small spiculated lesion and spiculated is often a sign that it is cancer. He didn't know the size as he had only seen a report not the picture and told me he had referred it on to an specialist and I would hear from him the next day.  

The next night the specialist called me to discuss the next steps. He said he had a look at the scan and his words were it is a tiny suspicious lesion at the top of the right lung. He stated he thinks it is a small cancer but we need to confirm this. I asked the size and he said he didn't have any measuring tools there but about 1.5 cm (The call was at 8-30pm so I think he was at home after dinner). I asked if there was any indication of enlarged lymph nodes on the CT and he said CT scans are not really designed to show lymph nodes and he doesn't really want to go into much detail when first talking to a patient over the phone without have met them with time for a more detailed discussion. I am hoping if there were signs of enlarged nodes this would have been on the report to my doctor and he didn't mention that so I have my fingers crossed. He also said there are some signs of emphysema which was probably the reason for my cough! 

So next step is waiting for a PET scan booking and have a Lung Function test booked for 12th April. He said the plan will be to see if it has spread and see the results of the Lung Function test which will allow him to see the choices in surgery that I have but it appeared that his initial plan is to remove it immediately through surgery. I don't know at this stage if this would be removal of lesion or lobectomy. I just have to wait and see but as so many others state the waiting at this early stage is doing my head in. I spend so much time thinking about how stupid I was to smoke and not listen to all the research and give up years ago. I have myself to blame but I have read so many posts from non smokers and my heart goes out to them as what did they do to deserve this? I guess as I have always said life is just one big raffle where you don't want to win a prize!

Thanks for all your information and encouragement on this forum and thanks for your time. And by the way my calcium score was terrible so after this I have more work to do to reduce my chances of a heart attack. Oh dear!!!!

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Welcome here.

You are on the same diagnostic trail that most of us take. A surprise CT or rarely x-ray find followed up by a PET and sometimes a pulmonary function test (PFT). But, normally before surgery or further treatment, one has a biopsy of a discovered nodule or mass. So a biopsy will likely be a future confirming test. Here is information about lung cancer biopsies and also information on lung cancer surgery that addresses the preferred method of moving a lobe rather than just the nodule or mass (read under the heading "What are the different types of surgery used in lung cancer". 

A PET scan uses radiation tagged glucose as the diagnostic element. Measured is termed as a standard uptake value or SUV and it can be confusing. Here is some personal insight into PET scans and SUVs.

In February 2004, I was at your exact location on the diagnostic trail except PET scans hadn't been invented and biopsies were only subjected to tissue histology examinations to confirm lung cancer. Follow on laboratory testing to determine suitability for targeted therapy and or immunotherapy was still undiscovered. So was precision radiation technology. In fact, I was one of the first to received a newly approved precision radiation treatment (called CyberKnife, a form of SBRT or stereotactic body radiation therapy). Be sure to inform the physician who performs your biopsy to submit your sample for follow on laboratory testing to learn if targeted therapy or immunotherapy is an applicable treatment for you. Sometimes, surgery is performed without a biopsy if a very conclusive PET is in hand.

Two take-aways from the aforementioned. I was also a long tenured smoker diagnosed in a time when there were few options for lung cancer treatment. First, therefore, treatments and treatment outcomes have dramatically improved. Second, if I can live, so can you.

Life has always been a raffle but sometimes the drawing is postponed!

Stay the course.




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Thanks Tom for your response. I have been doing a lot of reading on this forum over the last few days and appreciate all the positive feedback.

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Hi Mikey and welcome! Don't beat yourself up! NOBODY deserves cancer whether they smoke or not. A lot of us have some unhealthy habits that can increase our risk of something-or-other, but whether we get the something-or-other is still the luck of the draw. 

I was fortunate (if anybody with lung cancer can be considered fortunate) to have my cancer discovered very early in a CT scan for something else. I had a lobectomy 6 years ago and needed no further treatment. So far, I'm NED (no evidence of disease).  

All the best,

Bridget O

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