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Didn't know where to post this but perhaps someone has some insight. I see many nonsmokers on this forum who have cancer, I was wondering what made them see a dr?

I am a nonsmoker too and have been seeing a pulmonary specialist for a yr. with a yearly check-up next week as requested by my employer because of the fact I am a nonsmoker and for some unknown reason my fev1 has been dropping alot for the last 3 yrs. My dr. suspects it is the effect of second hand smoke but the only testing he has ordered is a pft test done at the hospital. After finding out my husband has lung cancer should I be insisting on having any particular test or just the annual pft done at the hospital. I am on no medication and I don't have any breathing difficulty. I hate the thoughts that perhaps something could be wrong and the dr has done nothing, just a thought. I would be interested in anyones opinion.

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Bert,

My cancer was found by accident. No thought of screening, due to age and non-smoking history. No family history of lung cancer....just some dumb luck on my part to get sick when I did...

I went to the doctor because I was sick. My husband and I shared a case of viral pneumonia. I had had a dry cough for three weeks (REALLY affects the windpipe to cough that much) and felt out of sorts - I went to the doctor (with my son, who was sick also) and we both were prescribed antibiotics for sinus infections. Hubby went to his doctor with a bad sinus infection, as well.

Three days into my antibiotic, I was still coughing and hacked up blood. My doctor thought "TB" and I went in for a controlled TB test and x-rays. The chest x-ray showed pneumonia, as did my husband's a few days later. ANOTHER course of antibiotics. (My son got better on the antibiotics, he was given a second course, as well, as it was assumed the household had pneumonia..)

Follow up chest x-ray showed my husband's pneumonia had cleared up - I happened to have a cloud still showing on my x-ray. Doctor wanted to know what that cloud could be, sent me for a CT...CT shows a "mass", doctor sends me to a thoracic surgeon for follow up. Surgeon points out all the "can be's" and sets me up for biopsy...got the call the evening of the biopsy that it was cancer, probably Stage I, maybe Stage II and that I needed to have it removed...and the rollercoaster began.

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Hi Bert,

I think it all starts with a chest x-ray. My cancer was also found by accident. I went in for a physical and because I was a smoker I got a chest x-ray and the rest is history. I had no symptoms and there was no family history of lung cancer.

BJ

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We assumed Becky had allergies; we had just moved into the middle of a pine forest after all, when she developed a lingering cough. She had had smaller coughs in Florida, and allergy medicine had always handled it. Given our age and smoking status, no doctor in Florida ever thought to do a chest x-ray. (I don't mean that to be a blame statement - she went to the doctor with a cough, was prescribed cough medicine, and it went away. Only in retrospect do we realize that there was something more serious going on.)

Curtis

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Hi Donna G, I am a lab technician and I need to wear a half-mask respirator for some of the work I do--I work with various chemicals both liquid and powder and we are required every year to have a PFT test.

I have told this to my pulmonary specialist but he still seems to think it is second hand smoke related because of the number of years I have been exposed--since childhood and I am now 55 years old. I really don't know as I have only had pft testing done for the last 9 years and everything was ok until the last 3 yrs, so I don't really know what the problem is my husband quit smoking 9 years ago. After my husband's diagnosis I guess I am in scared mode and wondering even about myself now--maybe I'm over reacting.

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Bert,

Lung cancer can be caused by many things. My oncologist is aware that my father smoked in the house when I was growing up. I have not lived with a smoker in over 15 years...AND, my oncologist says that "my brand" of cancer is NOT smoking related. I've worked in heavy industry in the last six years - an oil refinery in Alaska and a huge chemical plant in Michigan. I'm sure there's a possibility I "got into something nasty"...but my friends from said jobs aren't sitting on this side of a LC diagnosis...

Growing up, my father was in the service. We lived in sub-standard quarters that are commonly referred to as "on base housing". Levels of lead, asbestos, etc....yet my brother isn't sitting on this side of a LC diagnosis...

There's radon, pollution, etc., etc., etc., that can lead to LC and I'm SURE there are many things (stress?) not known that can cause it. I think, in your shoes and knowing what I know, I'd request my doctor to "humor me" and go for a chest x-ray and/or CT of your chest. All clear and you'll sleep better, not clear and you're on the fast track of early warning....

All my best,

Becky

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My husband had chest X-rays every year as recently as Dec. 16, 2003. None of them showed the cancer. My husband's primary care dr. sent the Dec. one back to be re-read because it didn't look right to him. It wasn't until a spiral CT scan was done in Jan. after my husband was hospitalized for blood clots in his lungs that it was found. By then he was Stage IV.

You just never can tell about these tests and the knowledge of the people involved. The bottom line is that doctors don't know nearly as much as we think they do. I don't mean this as a slam. It is a learning process for all of us. In my opinion, it is worth following up on your tests. You can't be too careful.

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My wife has never smoked, never lived in a house where there was smoking. Usually a chest x-ray would show something, but in my wife's case, the lungs were clear! She had an elevated alkali phosphatase in her blood, which could indicate cancer activity, but could be other things, too. The doctos finally concluded by elimination after many tests that she had a disease that makes too much calcium.

That was in the spring. In the summer, she began to lose some dexterity in her left hand. Then her arm started hurting. An MRI of her chest area revealed a tumor on her upper spine. Then further scans showed about five different tumors in various bones of the body. A biopsy of the spine tumor indicated it was an adenocarcinoma, and not bone cancer. A biopsy of the leg bone, where they could get enough tissue, identified it is non-small cell lung cancer. Then when they looked back at the x-rays of the chest area, they could see a small shadow on the top of the left lung --that is all. They surmise the main tumor migrated from the lung right across to the spine, and then out from there. Weird, huh?

Best to you. Don

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