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BREAST CANCER FREE - NOW LUNG CANCER

8MARIANNE8
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2009

I was a 7 1/2 year survivor of breast cancer. This year when I was given my routine lung xray for annual follow-up, there was something suspicious. So far I have had a CT scan which showed "nodules", 9 mm being the largest. Also showed either a new fracture of my back at T10 or a healed one (wasn't made clear to me). Now they are going to schedule me for a bone scan, and I have taken a blood test (results unknown at this time). Has anyone out there had a breast cancer, only to have lung cancer years later? Also, can anyone tell me about the bone scan, also the aspiration of nodules.....what they entail, if they hurt, etc. In addition, I understand that you can only have radiation once in your life, so I may not be able to have radiation of my lung (same side as affected breast). Right now I am operating on rumor and fear. Can anyone give me some insight?

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

I am a two time cancer survivor. I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, stage 1 back in 2002. Nodes were negative and the markers were good: estrogen positive, HER negative, and so forth. A single spot on my lung showed up on an xray taken in 2006 for a case of bronchitis that just wouldn't go away. I was convinced I had pneumonia. The spot led to a CAT scan. Three months later they did a second scan. That led to a biopsy to see what it was. The surgeon was pretty sure it was stage 4 breast cancer so he backed out after the biopsy. After a genetic test, it turned out to be stage one lung cancer, so they had to go back in again. I'm missing my middle right lobe now and doing fine. Since my spot was early stage lung cancer of a sort that doesn't really respond well to chemo, surgery is all I'm getting so far. If it comes back, they have some pills for me to down, but so far the tests are coming back okay.

Mind you, if it had been breast cancer that had set up camp in my lungs, my treatment would have been very different. If the tests after the biopsy had clearly pointed out that it was breast cancer, they wouldn't have gone back in and taken the middle lobe. Instead, they would have pulled out the chemo protocols for breast cancer based on the breast cancer markers. I would have been in stage four breast cancer then. Please be assured that many folks with stage four breast cancer live a long time. Stage four cancer may not be curable, but it is treatable. I personally have met folks that were over twenty years and counting as stage 4 survivors. Maybe that isn't the norm for everyone, but it is possible. They told me that when a reoccurance happens, they get to the best team they can find and follow their advice. Sometimes that means more chemo, sometimes radiation is needed, and sometimes surgery is indicated (though not as often).

You cannot have radiation on the same spot as before, but with today's targetted radiation, you may be able to have radiation that is directed at your lung in such a way that it misses your breast.

If your tests indicate stage four breast cancer, go to the breast cancer discussion board. I'm at both boards thanks to my medical history, but the number of breast cancer survivors (many at stage four with just tons of expertise) are overwhelming there. The chat room has a lot of stage four folks in it most evenings, but lately I haven't been able to get in.

If they decide that a biopsy is needed, surgery will depend on the location of the nodule in question. Mine was too far in and down to get at without opening up my lung. That ouches to say the least! Fortunately I was in contact with a super thoracic surgeon who did the VATS procedure. That is like laproscopic surgery on the lung. The general surgeons could have gotten the biopsy too, but they would have removed a rib or two and left me with a ten inch scar doing it...with the VATS procedure I ended up with three spots that could be covered with a few bandaids. Mind you, the second time around I got a few somewhat larger spots (including a 4 1/2 incher!), but all have healed and I'm doing well now. Many folks tell me that their nodules were close enough to the top or outside of their lung that the doctor could get the sample in other ways that did not involve such major surgery. Ask your doctor what he recommends and I'm sure he'll fill you in. But if you have to have a major lung operation, look for someone who can do a VATS procedure. It really shortens your recovery time.

Good luck!

C. Abbott

8MARIANNE8
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2009

Thank you so much for your response. I wrote in March and then promptly forgot that I had done it because I was so "into" my condition. I have been waiting until end of May for a second CT scan to see if there has been any progress. Been on femara since about March, no side effects. So by May 22 I may know whether or not I have anything to be concerned about. If I do, I think I am strong enough to face it. Your detailed email helped, and I appreciate your words. Thank you.

charleen menzel
Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2009

8Marianne8 I am a twenty year survivor from Breast Cancer to find out last June of 2008 that I had 3B Lung Cancer. My tumor was 7.cm and located in the right lower lobe of my lung. My Breast Cancer was also on my right side. I have had numerous Ct scan and they do not hurt, I have Pet Scsn and they also don't hurt, the worse part is waiting for the results. I have gone through chemo treatments with no radiation at this time. I also heard once you have had radiation of that area you can only have it once.

I do know you run on fear and and no one can understand what you are going through unless them selves have experience it. I don't think you ever lose the fear factor, but I do know that i decided for myself that I needed to take control of my life, I'm always going to doctors and having scans and feeling that I had no control over my life. I felt that I had lost all meaning to my life until I finally made the decision to take back my life and begin to find the joy and peace again. I'm not saying it is easy, because there are many days I just don't feel well.but I continue to work and now have decided to do what is fun for me. Please believe there will be better days if you take back your life, and you become in control of your life. I have alot of faith and believe in pray and I give that the most credit for me that I am still here to enjoy life and have a postive attitude that I will survive. Please don't be afraid and if you need to have someone to talk to please let me know because I do know what you are going through.

8MARIANNE8
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2009

Thank you so much for your kind words. I had posted here and then got so "involved" in my condition that I forgot to come back to view comments. I appreciate yours. I am awaiting my second CT scan, after waiting three months, which will occur on May 20. I am trying to remain positive about the outcome, but time will tell. I "took my life back" by switching doctors in the middle of all of this because my previous doctor did not seem to feel the urgency that I did to find out what was wrong. I became at peace after meeting the new doctor, and hopefully that peacefulness continues. Again, thanks for your comment.

mismelissa27
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2009

Hello. My mother is a 13 year survivor of brest cancer and was just diagnosed in the beginning of March with lung cancer that has spread to her liver and her adrenal glands. It is stage 4 and we have been told that it is not curable but it is treatable. She cannot have radiation as radiation has to be to specific areas and since hers is in so many areas it is not possible. Surgery is not an option as she has many tumors in her liver and unfortunately you cannot live without your liver so chemotherapy is the only option. On a lighter note, she had a bone scan, it is basically an x-ray and they did not find cancer in her bones which suprised them, and they did a ct scan of her brain and the cancer had not spread there either. As for the biopsy, she had a liver biopsy just to basically have a pathology test so they could begin chemo. For the lung, it is pretty easy, okay in theory, I am sure it is unpleasent, but they put a tube down your throat with a camera on the end and they go into the lung. When they reach the tumor they will look at it and attached to the tube will be some insturment that first they will try to aspirate the tumor (draw some fluid out of the tumor) if they cannot do this, or they may do this anyway, they will take a small sample from the tumor for testing. It is an outpatient procedure. I am not sure if they put you under or not. You can research the procedure on the internet and this will give you an idea of what to expect and what questions you want to ask. You may be lucky that the tumor is localized and that it can be surgically removed. I have heard and read of people who have had a lung tumor and it was removed sucessfully by surgery with little to no complications. I hope this helps and if you need to talk, please feel free to reach out to me. I will pray for you.

8MARIANNE8
Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2009

Thank you for your input. I am still in limbo, waiting for another CT scan on May 20. After that I should know whether or not I have metastisized breast cancer, or whatever it is. Thanks again for your help.

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