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Mom has 12cm lung mass, any positive thoughts welcome!

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2011

On Monday 11/21/2011, my mother (73) was suffering from sever back pain, went to the ER and they discovered a 12 cm mass in the bottom 3/4 of a lung. For 2 years she had been treated for acid reflux but they never did a chest xray from the beginning of her issues. She had 2 endoscopys, which were hard on her. I am so angry about that but trying to move passed it. It's hard to be angry and crushed at the same time and I know it's a common emotional state when faced with such news. I keep it from her, but it's tearing me apart and I need to stay positive and enjoy time with her.

From the MRI the doctor looked at with us, he also sees that there's some spread of the "mass" which has been pulling on her esophagus creating the acid reflux. He didn't say it, but I believe any good doctor would guess from the MRI, it's cancer. Some good news is that her blood CBCs are within normal limits. She is trying to work with Kaiser to get the biopsy done soon. They seem to be dragging their feet. It's hard to think about that they may have passed judgment that her tumor is so advanced in size, they don't see an urgency to get a prognosis.

Is there any hope to keep her comfortable and have some successful treatments to lengthen the time she has with us? A diagnosis with lung cancer and the prognosis from all that I learned about cancer over the years seems so grim. Anyone have some advice and similar stories to offer hope? I'd really appreciate any tidbits of hope, advice along with small doses of reality...

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

First, I would suggest that while you argue with yourself that you are trying to be positive, you sound angry, really angry. As a head/neck cancer AND lung cancer survivor, I am pretty sure of this when I say that endoscopies do not explore the lungs but the esophagus and the abdomen. Thus, the endoscopies were used to discover the cause of the reflux, or to determine if it WAS reflux. A bronchoscopy or a pandescopy might have caught the mass, since they also check the lobes, but these are a tad more painful than your typical endoscopy.

Second, there is hope for mom. If she is physically fit and has no breathing issue beyond the mass (no emphysema, no COPD, no pneumonia, no ashma, for example), if she can pass the breathing tests, there is a possibility they can remove a lung, in her case, since it seems to be spread across more than one lobe if I read you correctly, but not across lungs.

If it has crossed from one lung to another, the choices are much more limited at this point.

With respect to your guessing, and with respect to 'feet dragging', if you do not like the doctors (if mom does not like the doctors) she needs to find ones she trusts. If she trusts these, then she needs to stay with them and you need to try to change your attitude a bit so that it does not affect the level of mom's care.

They didn't give her cancer but are only trying, hopefully, to do what is best to treat her. With respect to the waiting, to the 'feet-dragging', the truth is your mom is not the only one with such a diagnosis: cancer is quite the fad.

Try to be positive, try to be patient, and try to stay on top of things. If you are unhappy with the waiting, you are certainly free to call and ask why the delay you perceive, although they are likely to recite something similar to the above while also indicating that the waiting time is likely to make little difference in what they do or how she comes out of it.

Spend positive time with mom, get her out and moving about, if you can, prepare her, that is, for the breathing tests at the very least, and give her hope and humor. You might consider asking one of her doctors, in fact for a spirometer and other little gadgets that she can use to improve her breathing in anticipation of such a test.

Best wishes to mom and her family.

Take care,


PBJ Austin
Posts: 347
Joined: Mar 2009

I am very sorry for what you are going through. I have learned that large lung masses such as hers very often are cancer but I also know first hand there are other possibilities. It might be a comparison of apples and oranges between my story and hers but I think this will be of interest to you.

In June 2009 I had severe pain while breathing so I went to the ER. They did a CT scan and discovered a mass, measuring something like 6 x 7.3cm. The ER doc told me with great certainty this was cancer. He even spoke as if it's probably very advanced and I would need further testing to see if lung surgery would even be helpful.

They did a needle biopsy and found only dead tissue so it was ruled inconclusive. Then they did a broncoscopy with the same results. Then they did the EBUS and once again, only dead tissue and no real answers.

By the end of August I had caught pneumonia and I was very sick. At that point they removed the upper right lobe and discovered in surgery the lung had adhered to my chest wall. After the surgery they had me on a respirator because I had stopped breathing.

Once the mass was out and they could test it properly they still found no cancer. Evidently this dead tissue was just a really bad infection.

So once again, I have no idea of what's wrong w/your mom. I am sorry to say it could very well be cancer, but please know there are other possibilities. I do wish you luck in getting a biopsy soon. Right now you are in the worst position, and that is waiting for answers. I know how hard it is, but waiting is a part of the game. I wish you and yours the very best and I hope you will post back when you know more.

david f
Posts: 12
Joined: Aug 2010

In June of last year my wife got very weak so we went to the ER. They found a growth in her brain. It was surgurcally removed and radiated for three weeks and is now gone. However they found a 7.5cm growth in her lung which was stage four cancer. After over a year of Chemo, both invasive and maintenance, she had a ct/pet scan. Not only has the mass been shrinking, now its 1.2cm, but there is no cell activity shown by the PET scan. At this point she's taking a break from chemo using Alimta which has caused very bad side effects. She'll be on monitoring only for a bit until she gets her strenght.
So as bad as things may seem initially, there is always reasons for hope. May my wife's success give you that hope

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