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Side effects after lung surgery

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I had my right lower lobe removed 15 months ago.  For 6 months after I was not good. I had fluid removed from the lung 3 times. I had robotic surgery, and they got the cancer. I was stage one, non small cell lung cancer.  
Recovery the surgeon told me could take a couple of weeks or months. My breathing and getting out of breath happens often, even now, 15 months after surgery.  I feel pressure always on my right side, and feel like an air bubble moves up and down on that side. Very strange feeling, I’m not in pain but I always feel something going on in that area.  
I have talked with a couple of people who had their upper lobe removed and have had no problems, or side effects after normal healing. I would like to reach out to others who have had their upper lobe removed and find out how their recovery went.  I also have a node on my other lung that they are watching. I had breast cancer 20 years ago and was on treatment for a year  

would appreciate any information and experience you have had with this procedure 






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Hi Marcia,

You're certainly having a time of it. So sorry. The SOB concerns me, too.

While it's interesting and sometimes useful to hear about others' experiences, it's important to work on parallel fronts. Have you consulted with a lung cancer oncologist? Surgeons believe they are saviors, even in lung cancer-- and they can be!-- but they simply don't know enough about the sneakiness of the disease as a lung cancer specialist would. As you are collecting information about others' experiences, please seek out a lung cancer oncologist!

Best of luck, and keep us posted.


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Hi Marcia,

I had a lobe removed and it was a slow and tough recovery. I still get bouts of chest tightness and some shortness of breath but it seems to be correlated with my stress levels (I am being followed up regularly though it is becoming longer in between check ups). Right after surgery, I had a small air leak and I recall terribly scary sensations of bubbles and motion in my chest especially when I cough etc. The surgeon kept my drainage for a whole week and even when removed, some air escaped inside and took many weeks to be absorbed by the body (was followed up by X-ray until it was resolved). This though should be something that happens right after surgery and should heal in a matter of weeks, not months or years. I also recall horrifying feelings of hot fluid spilling inside my chest which I was told are faulty nerve sensations due to trauma to nerves in surgical area. It was so scary. Again, such sensations should be gone in weeks/few months.

Have you been evaluated with imaging to investigate the reason for your sensations? I strongly recommend having a respirologist on board, and a lung medical oncologist (to be on safe side for any stage, LC is very sneaky).

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I had my right lung removed and also experienced the pressure sensation you speak of. My surgeon made small incisions on each side of my chest and with the help of nurses, pushed air that was in a pocked in the pleural space between the outer wall of my lung and the inner wall of my skin until it was expelled. Of course, I had anesthesia during this process.

My surgeon told me that small air pockets get absorbed but mine was more extensive. I agree with Karen and Lily about follow-up with a pulmonologist and a medical oncologist. Both should be involved in screening scans to ensure you stay cancer free.

Stay the course.


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Hi Marcia, I had my lower right lobe removed in 2016. I had a chest tube in for 10 days because of an air leak.  After the tube was out  and a few days of "rice crispies" feeling under the skin in a small area, things were pretty uneventful.  I felt and heard "something going on" in my r ight chest  off and on, but I didn't experience it as pressure, pain or distress. It's decreased over the years and, thinking about it now, I haven't experienced it in months. I haven't had shortness of breath generally, although I admit to some now with exertion because I've gotten out of shape during the pandemic. (I probably need to stop using the pandemic as an excuse and get back to exercising). 

I do agree with the folks above about getting a consult with a pulmonologist  and/or an oncologist that specializes in lung cancer. Everybody's surgical recovery is different. Yours does seem a bit out of the ordinary and some other medical input might find something that needs some correction or it might reassure your that your recovery is in the normal range.

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