Free to Breathe
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To get surgery or not?

My father has been breathing heavily without exertion. We wanted him to see his doctor about it. He was then referred to a sleep and lung doctor who ran test which said they could be no stage or stage 1. She then referred him to a surgeon to complete further test on the spots they found. The surgeon completed a surgery last week to test his lymph node on the opposite side of the largest lesion (smaller than a nickel) and also test the small spots they found. The small spots are non cancerous (they were able to test on the spot while he was there). The larger lesion was sent off to the lab and is said to be non cancerous and can be removed in surgery. My dad says the surgeon said today at his follow up that he couldn’t get a really good specimen for the larger lesion but he believes that it’s non cancerous based of the lab results and another thing he did mention was on another test he did (I believe a cat scan) the lesion was bright and it could be cancerous. So now my dad is torn between getting the surgery or waiting 4 to 5 months for a recheck to see if anything has changed. They also recommended a sleep study for his heavy breathing at times. Looking for any guidance anyone may have :-).

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How large is the biggest mass? Where did he have the surgery done.? Was it an NCCN designated Comprehensive Cancer Care Center? (Usually a teaching hospital). If the mass is smaller than 1cm I would counsel waiting.

There are many things that can cause nodules. A recent cold, flu, bronchitis, allergies, molds, household or industrial fumes, air pollution, colognes and perfumes can all cause nodules. Anything that can irritate your lungs will cause nodules. All of these will cause bright spots on a PET scan. These are only a few of the possible causes. 95% of nodules resolve on their own or never get bigger.

People living in the Mississippi River Basin or any of its tributaries can expect to develop histoplasmosis. That means anyone east of the Rockies and west of the Appalachian mountains. 50% of those will die never knowing they had nodules because it’s extremely rare that it causes problems.

The sleep study should be done ASAP.

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Thanks Denzie. The largest mass is smaller than the size of a nickel. My dad has been on edge about it because he worked in the shipyard for a small time and is a prior smoker. Wow, I definitely didn’t know those things caused nodules! We live in Southeastern Virginia. I will definitely pass along the info about the sleep study.

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Just because he smoked he doesn’t deserve Cancer no one does. And no one says anything about the other 30 cancers tobacco use is tied to. Have you seen the report? How did they describe this almost a buckle sized mass?

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Agreed. I haven’t seen the report but I think that’s a good idea to see it. I’ll call my dad this morning and ask him about it.

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I’ll keep you posted Denzie :-)

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As Denzie knows, I am the queen of saying that you should get a 2nd opinion. Surgeons want to do surgery, radiologists want to do radiation, etc. A 2nd opinion is always a good idea before making any big decisions. Also, talk, talk, talk to the doc until you understand everything. I bring my questions on paper and use either a friend or a tape recorder so that when I get overwhelmed and stop listening (we all do it!) there is backup.

And, yes, get the sleep study ASAP. The results of the study will determine what he needs. It is surprising to many people that they have sleep apenea. Night treatment can go a long way in making daytime better!

Please keep us informed!

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