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7mm spot on lungs after breast cancer, has anyone else been down this road?

Diane 88's picture
Diane 88
Posts: 19
Joined: Jan 2009

Hi, I just found out this week by xray I had a 7mm spot on my lungs. That led to many more tests like CT, blood, ultra sound and pet.
All tests except the pet and xray were clear/normal.

The PET shows 2 lymph nodes (one by each lung in the center of the chest) by the lungs light up. The lung nodes light up also making several small spots on the PET. The 7mm spot showed up on the pet but none of the doctors could find it to show us.
The doctor says its too early to tell if its cancer or something else then set up an appointment with the lung doctor for 2 weeks later. She thinks the spots are to small to sample to tell if its cancer. She has no urgency since if it is breast cancer in the lungs there is nothing that can be done except extend life by medicines.

I have been on anti depressants in the past and currently I'm not taking them. I have asthma and know based on a Mayo Clinic study that I am in a higher risk group but always thought if it came back it would be in my breast again. I had a ping pong ball removed one year ago then pre cancer on the other breast removed in Feburary of this year.

What do you think about Tamoxifen after spots? I am worried about the side effects like hot flashes and damage to my hormone system.

If you've had this experiance what did the doctor recomend to you?
I am stressed. I would really like to hear from others that have had this same issues please.
Thank you.

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

There is a lady that comes in here, her name in here is cabbott, and she is a survivor of both breast cancer and lung cancer. In addition, she is an absolute vault of valuable information. Hopefully she will respond.

In the meantime, I am a man and a survivor of tongue/neck cancer (surgery in Oct '05 followed by chemotherapy and radiation) who also had a lobectomy in January of '08.

It seems they found cancer all over my lungs, via CAT/PET scans. They said, in June of '07, that I had a minimum of 10 months to live. Subsequent scans, a couple of months later, showed my lungs all clear, with the exception of one 4mm node. That one turned out to be malignant, but I was told, like you, that it would need to grow before they could be sure of anything.

I know that sounds contrary to what you would think (it's cancer! let's get it out now!) but such is the nature of the thing. Sometimes we have to wait. The alternative, if you really think about it, would be unnecessary surgeries left and right, and we all know there is enough of that going around.

So: my point, I guess, is that you should not just assume that this is cancer. What scared off most of my 'cancer' in the lungs was the fact I was taking an antibiotic for an infection in my face, of all places. That same antibiotic killed all of the 'lights' in my scans, with the exception of the one. In fact, even the purported recurrence in my mouth turned out to be an infection beneath a filling.

Hold out, hope for the best, and treat yourself well. If you smoke, quit. If you drink, quit. Eat well and exercise. Even if it turns out you DO have cancer, all of these will benefit you greatly. If you do not, why then, you are helping yourself greatly to prevent the recurrence you now dread.

As to your main question, re the chemical, I would not even ask the question until I had certainty regarding the nature of the spots in the lungs.

Best wishes.

Take care,

Joe

Diane 88's picture
Diane 88
Posts: 19
Joined: Jan 2009

Joe, Thanks for sharing this information and your story. Maybe the antibodic would work for me. Do you remember what the name of the antibodic was? I would like to ask the Dr. about trying this. I don't smoke or drink so that's in my favor.
It's hard not to consider it cancer but I try to remain hopefull. Having to wait to see the lung specialist causes a lot of anxiety and then you know they want more tests. I am a needle phobic which doesn't help.
You have beat the odds and are here today...Great.
Take Care,
Diane

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

Diane, it is not likely that your doctors will prescribe an antibiotic on a whim. The Keflex I was prescribed was for a specific purpose: cellulitis in my lower face (I was a tongue/neck cancer survivor first, you may recall). That it cleared up the massive 'lights' in my lungs was a rather wonderful coincidence.

I would not want to give you false hope in that regard.

Even so, other possibilities may include scarring from previous bouts of bronchitis, pneumonia, and who knows what else.

The point I meant to make was not to get ahead of yourself. You go to a 'cancer doctor' not just to confirm a diagnosis but to rule one out as well.

I am fully aware of the anxiety and the phobias, Diane, trust me on that one :). You will get through this.

And remember, cancer is not a good thing, to state the obvious, but it is not necessarily a death sentence, either. The many folks who habituate these boards are proof of that.

Best wishes, Diane. Please keep us posted on your results.

Take care,

Joe

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Yep, I have both of the above kinds of cancer. Fortunately, both have been stage one and so far I'm doing much better than I ever thought possible after a cancer diagnosis. But then, as Joe mentioned, a cancer diagnosis (even a stage 4 diagnosis) is not the death sentance for many survivors that I orignally assumed it was. Check out the discussion board for breast cancer and you will find tons of folks with stage 4 cancer leading pretty normal lives, so don't panic no matter what your diagnosis turns out to be.

My story started with a breast cancer diagnosis. The mammogram showed some calcifications that after several months of tests turned out to be near two spots of invasive breast cancer. I'm not built very large and when the lumpectomy and biopsy turned out to both be cancer and have "dirty" margins, I had to have a mastectomy. That was followed with tamoxifen as I was estrogen receptor postive. Tamoxifen messed with my cycles leading my student oncologist (under the supervision of a leader in the field) to worry that I had ovarian cancer. Nope, I didn't, but they don't put those parts back after doing the biopsy, so I then went on an amoratase inhibitor (exemestane aka aromasin). Tamoxifen gave me a couple of hot flashes and a few more weeks between cycles, but other than the headache I had the first two days (easily cured with Tylenol), it was not a problem. I'm regular at taking pills and took it every day at breakfast without fail. The surgical menapause paired with exemestane was considerably more extreme in terms of side effects, but still totally tolerable as far as I was concerned. I wanted to do all I could to raise my odds of a long event-free life, but I must say I definately get hot flashes and flushes now. It was about every 20 minutes the first year, but that was back in 2004. Now I notice them daily, but I don't wake up at night any more or sweat quite as much. I have learned to dress in layers that come off quickly and to drink cool water as needed, but I think the flashes have slacked off some too. The exemestane is known to sometimes cause joint pain. I had a major problem with inflamed toe joints--don't laugh! I felt like the Little Mermaid and really didn't want to get out of bed in the morning or walk across the room after sitting because of the ouchies. But after getting some great orthodics followed by some advice by a nurse practioner to get my Vitamin D level checked, the ouchies disappeared for good. I was really low on Vitamin D in spite of taking in 4 glasses of milk, a multi with D, taking calcium with D, and being fairly active outdoors. Cancer patients are often dangerously low on D and often have joint pain. For 6 weeks I was on the prescription D and now I'm okay with the gel tabs containing D in fish oil. Every time my feet hurt (only once in a great while now) I remember to take those gel tabs and the pain is gone in a heartbeat. So yes, those cancer drugs have side effects, but never forget those side effects have cures too. The best effect of the cancer drugs is that they keep breast cancer at bay.

Unfortunately, the drugs that work on breast cancer don't work on other kinds of cancer like lung cancer. When I developed a spot on my lung, the doctor was surprised. I had a kind of breast cancer not likely to metasticize. Because of that, they let it go for 3 months to see if it was growing. This is standard procedure for lung cancer because it is a major thing to open up a lung for a biopsy. Besides, lung cancer tends to grow fairly slowly compared with the more aggressive sorts of breast cancer. When a radiologist determined that just maybe my spot had slightly increased in size, my oncologist asked for a biopsy. He just didn't think I had stage 4 breast cancer for sure based on my first diagnosis. You know from past experience that it isn't cancer until the pathologist sees it under a microscope. Well, sometimes they have to run even more tests to tell what kind of cancer it is. I was sent home after the first lung operation with a diagnosis of stage 4 breast cancer because it was adnocarcinoma, a kind of cancer that looked like the same kind of breast cancer I had had earlier. Further testing indicated that it was adnocarcinoma of the lung, stage 1, with BAC tendencies, not adnocarcinoma of the breast traveled to the lung. Like my breast cancer, it grows fairly slowly and surgery is often curative. So I had to go back to the surgeon and have a second lung operation in 10 days. Fun! Fun! But that was back in 2006 and I've been doing great ever since.

So what can you do? Joe gave great advice. Take great care of your health. Exercise, eat right, get as healthy as you can, and make your appointments for all rechecks. The healthier you are the more aggressive treatment you can stand. There are many ways to biopsy a lung if that turns out to be needed. If you have a spot too far down or to the center to be reached from above, look for a thoracic specialist that can do VATS procedures. Even when they are going in for what they are sure is cancer, understand that it isn't anything until the pathologist finishes all the tests. The doctors keep close tabs on us survivors. Many times a spot turns out to be something other than cancer. Sometimes it is a fungus, sometimes it is a small bit of scar tissue. One breast cancer survivor operated on the same week I was operated on threw my surgeon for a loop by having a bit of TB in her lung. Some lung diseases that could cause a spot are better than lung cancer. Some are not. Many small spots of cancer may take care of themselves so I've read, but sometimes they need medical and surgical assistance to get out of there. I refuse to wait and see what might happen in hopes that I have the kind that will disappear on its own. I'm a bit of a romatic, but I don't have my head in the clouds when it comes to cancer. Cancer diagnosis is serious stuff. But at the same time, I've learned to do what the doctors recommend and I'm getting somewhat better at not panicking. There are lots of places on the internet that discuss what the current gold standard for treatment is and what to do about side effects. One of those places is right here. Post any questions you have and let us know your progress. Good luck!

C. Abbott

Diane 88's picture
Diane 88
Posts: 19
Joined: Jan 2009

Hi, Cabbot you sound like a true survivor.
I was given 2 choices. #1 Do a scope to get biopsy of lympho nodes by lungs. or #2 wait 3 months do a CT scan to see if there is any chance...and then every 3 months for 2 years.
I'm not fond of either of these choices...I really hate needles and medical stuff as well as scared of the outcome. I'm not sure that waiting is good because it might be easier to battle cancer now than when it grows. The scope they keep you awake but with calm down drugs for the procedure. I'm afraid I would flip out on them.
Later,All take care,

Diane

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

Tell them you are worried that you will flip out and that you want them to help you handle it. I have had procedures where I was totally panicked but the drugs doctors and specialists have are the good ones. Really good ones! Like once I had to have 4 wisdom teeth cracked and pulled and they told me that I would have to be awake for the procedure and probably would be aware the whole time. I don't like going to the dentist and panic at the thought of even hearing the hygenist opening the plastic on all those little dental tools she's going to clean my teeth with. Yep, I was freaked. And no, I never lost consciousness though I wanted to. But nothing ever hurt or was all that bad, even the 4 shots of novacaine or getting my jaw dislocated so they could reach everything. (sorry, too much information I bet, but you get the idea!). The first owie to put the IV in is the worst. I call it the 5 ow bee sting because after saying (or yelling) "ow!" 5 times it's over. After that everything goes through the line and the drugs, well, I've already said they are good! If they wait, they still may recommend a biopsy. If they don't find anything, they will still want followup CAT scans. (Sometimes the biopsy doesn't get the spot they wanted.). You are right that smaller is better if you have something needing attention whether it is cancer, infection, or whatever. So tell them your fears and start the battle now.

C. Abbott

PS Hypnotism or guided relaxation counseling or implosion therapy also work on medical fears. Drugs help faster though in my experience! A combination may work best if you can't get through the door to do what needs to be done. Good luck!

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

Is that the biopsy you're talking about? Because I had one, and I'm darn sure I was OUT for it.

Diane 88's picture
Diane 88
Posts: 19
Joined: Jan 2009

They told me I had to be awake for the biospy. So you can swallow. They give you drugs to put you kinda out.

cabbott
Posts: 1046
Joined: Aug 2006

They have drugs so that you won't have a problem. My favorite is something that acts like a light switch. They use it for lots of procedures where you are lightly sedated. When you are all ready, they put the drug in the IV and it is as if you blinked. In the space of that blink, the doctors do whatever they have to do. When they are ready to bring you totally back, then they inject the antidote in the line. Nope, I'm not good on names so I can't tell you what it is, but it is great when you don't want any recollection of whatever they have to do.)Then you are back and fairly coherent. I had it for several procedures including a colonoscopy where they do not give general anesthesia. I have no memories of anything. I have also had it for other various surgeries where general anesthesia was not indicated. As hard as I try to recall stuff, it just doesn't happen. They can also give you antianxiety medications that will knock you silly and totally relaxed no matter how you felt going into the place. Dentists sometimes give such things to kids who climb walls and rip off car doors on the way in for a procedure. They work well when used correctly--and the docs are well-versed on how to use them correctly. Thoracic specialists (and I hope you are going to one) understand about worried patients and are well-trained to deal with fears with medicines. So tell them your worries and ask what they can do. General anesthesia has more risks and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

C. Abbott

stayingcalm's picture
stayingcalm
Posts: 656
Joined: Feb 2007

Er, I mean, that actually sounds like what I was given for the mediastinoscopy, also a colonoscopy and a bronchoscopy at various times...I had assumed it was anaesthesia because I didn't remember being awake at all, but now I think about it there was next to no recovery time...

So I'm not so darn sure after all :)

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