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Mediastinotomy complications


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My name is Shelly Sherman. I was diagnosed with stage 3A nsclc in August of 2022.  After chemo and radiation I had mediastinotomy surgery to take out and biopsy my medial lymph nodes. Unfortunately the cancer persisted in my lymph nodes and was in a precarious place so I could not be resected. I am currently on Tagrisso-targeted therapy. It has been 8 weeks since the surgery and I am still dealing with a pleural effusion- fluid around my lung. It makes me short of breath and coughing on and off. My docs say my body will absorb the fluid. It doesn’t seem to be getting any better though. I am wondering if anyone has thoughts or experience that might help. 

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Welcome here.

Pleural effusion is something a lot of us experience. It is an irritation of the lining between the outer lung wall and the inner chest wall and is often a byproduct of cancer metastatic activity. 

Hopefully Tagrisso will start attacking the cancer and minimize the irritation, and if that is the case, your body will absorb the fluid. For some of us, however, pleural effusion continues to be a problem. In that case, a drain is surgically installed to move the fluid from the pleural space into the abdomen cavity. Hopefully, you won't need this surgery! I'm not aware of any treatments or therapy, other than reducing the metastasis or installing the pleural drain that will stop the effusion. Let's hope your Tagrisso takes hold!

Stay the course.


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It's amazing how much we lung cancer folks can learn on this journey. Don't be afraid to ask about having that fluid drained.

Are your docs specialists in lung cancer? 

Hang in,


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  • 2 weeks later...

Tagrisso should do a good job of drying up the pleural fluid but if it lingers, be sure to ask about having it drained. 

I'm Stage IIIB and on Tagrisso for almost 3 years after first having chemo and radiation. I was not a candidate for surgery.

Hope you get relief soon. 

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