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lung cancer or not?


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Hi all,

I'm copying pasting this message from the newcomers board, because it was posted by my cousin and my interest in the answer is the same. Hoping we can get some more opinions over here:

Hi everyone;

My father-in law was originally diagnosed with non-small cell cancer about 3 weeks ago. The doctor then called the next day and said it was a mistake since he had not received the actual reports from the specialist. My father-in-law has a mass the size of a lemon on the right lung and the doctor is now insisting that it is cancer even though nothing is actually proving this. After about 3 biopsies, tons of blood tests, bone scans, MRIs and x-rays they still can't confirm that it is cancer but the doctor still insists that it is lung cancer and wants more tests done. We are worried sick that this is taking too long, if it is Cancer treatment should have already begun, at the same time we are wondering if the doctor is wrong.

Is this that hard to detect? What is the usual waiting period.

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Many, many suggestions to this, most being to get a second opinion, some to consult a thoracic surgeon, visit a pulmonologist, seek an oncologist...

I met the oncologist AFTER my surgery - the thoracic surgeon decided to grab a piece of "it" and upon biopsy decided on taking it out. Prior to knowing what was being dealt with, the consensus was if it was benign and treatable, it stayed and was treated. Anything else was to be removed...pronto!

Seek that second opinion - and maybe even a third. If the doctor truly thinks it is cancer, it is absolutely LUDICROUS to sit on that information and not act. (Contrary to what the doctor says, s/he CAN refer you to a specialist on an "I think" diagnosis...and it IS possible to do a self-referral - contact an office.)

All the best to your uncle,


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Just some food for thought here:

When I was going through diagnosis, it was agony. Waiting for even a day for results was just too long for me. So, I do know how you feel about 3 weeks passing without a diagnosis. That said, here's what I know for sure about diagnosing lung ca:

My thoracic surgeon told me that there was no way to make a definite diagnosis without a piece of tissue. He also would not do a biopsy, citing way too many false negatives and also nearly as many side effects and potential for other medical problems as the surgery causes. As he explained it to me, a biopsy, besides being a false negative (which would be a travesty), can collapse a lung, be extremely painful, and still get you no where. That left surgery as the only way to obtain a tissue sample. Seemed really radical to me at the time--I remember telling him that it felt to me like we were going after a butterfly with a baseball bat, but I also would not have been comfortable with a negative biopsy anyway (wondering if he really got that right piece of tissue).

I had a chest x-ray, CT scan, and a PET scan before they decided surgery was the only option for me. If the nodule was not cancerous, they would just remove it because it wasn't supposed to be there anyway. If it was, they would take the whole lobe, which is exactly what ended up happening.

On the time frame, it was about 3 weeks from the PET scan results till I was able to have surgery because of their schedule, but I was assured that with the type of tumor that they were fairly certain I had, 90 days would be the time frame in which it would significantly change. Besides that, I had to get blood work done, have an EKG, and a pulmonary function test before the surgery so that pretty much took up the waiting period anyway.

Now that it's all over, I'm glad I had the surgery. First of all, that nasty thing had to come out of there. Secondly, while they were in there, they sampled all kinds of nodes and did a bronchoscopy and didn't find any other signs of a malignancy--yeah! It was a tough surgery and a tough recovery, but I'm glad we found it all in time to have surgery.

I hope this is helpful to you.......hang in there and please get another opinion if that is what you want to do.

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