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lung nodules and scared!

goldfinch's picture
Posts: 737
Joined: Oct 2003

hi all, read every day, but don't often respond. Mostly because i feel i have little to add to the conversation (you guys are all just so darn knowledgeable;-) However, i just got bad news and am looking for encouragement. Diagnosed with rectal cancer july 2003. Chemo/radiation followed by surgery (including temporary ileostomy), more chemo and finally reversal of ileostomy in Nov 2004. Thought that was the end of it. CEA done in dec 2004 up to 7.7 from 5.5 in (oct 2004). Cat scan now shows several lung nodules, less than 1cm in size. Oncologist is going to confer with radiologist to determine if biopsy possible. If not will have pet scan. what can i expect if this turns out to be mets. I am expecting that to be the outcome, since i have never smoked, so doubt they will end up being benign calcifications. Healthy 48 year old til all this happened! Definitely overwhelmed as is my poor husband! Haven't told my 20 year old daughter about all this. Waiting for more definitive dx and for the end of the holidays. any info will be greatly appreciated.
Merry Christmas!!!

Posts: 30
Joined: Nov 2003

Hi Mary
Merry Christmas to you. I read the posts often, but, like you, I don't often respond either. I'm sorry of your diagosis of lung nodules. My husband was diagnosed with lung mets in October 2003. He is 73 and was diagnosed with rectal cancer in January 2002 - had surgery May 2002. He never had a biopsy because the oncologist said he was sure that it was lung mets - apparently lungs are a very commmon met site for rectal cancer. My husband first took CPT-11 (camptosar) for about 4 months, but he didn't do well on it and his CEA kept increasing. He started on Erbitux in April 2004 and he's still on it. He's responded very well to the Erbitux and the lung mets have not grown since he's been on it and his CEA is stable. His CEA never was very high, I think the highest it ever got was around 7.5 or so. My husband is doing very well, has no symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath or pain. Because of his age, his other health problems (diabetes, HBP, kidney failure, post-stroke)and the number of lung mets being over 4 and in both lungs, there is no surgical option. I think with your age and your health, you need to find a surgeon and or oncologist that will be aggressive about surgical removal or radiology treatment of the nodules. Studies in Japan that I read about were with patients that had multiple (over 4) nodules removed and the survival rates were very dramatically higher than with chemo alone. I hope you find caring, aggressive doctors and great success in your treatments.

Moesimo's picture
Posts: 1079
Joined: Aug 2003

I can only imagine what you are going through. I don't know where you are receiving treatment, but you should get a second opinion from a major cancer center.

I will keep you in my prayers.

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2599
Joined: Apr 2003

Mary -

Sorry to hear about your issue -especially during the holidays. So many folks here have had good results with treatments for lung mets. VonnieKai is right - it's a very common met site for CC. I'm sure you'll hear from some of the vets like Nanuk (Bud) and Andreae among others.

I concur with your plan to not tell your daughter until you have a more difinitive diagnosis and have a plan together for treatments. No sense in having two of you going nuts with worry - that will happen soon enough. In the mean time, though, remember what I said about a number of folks here being treated successfully.

Merry Christmas

- SB

kangatoo's picture
Posts: 2115
Joined: Feb 2004

Hi Mary. Now don't go trying to cross the bridge before it is built. The lung results may still turn out to be calcifications or something not seriuos. After my scans I was told of lung calcifications which were not threatening. I am a bit like you. I never told my kids anything until the full results were in -absolutely no reason yet to worry them.
regards, kanga n Jen

Posts: 238
Joined: Sep 2003

I'm so sorry about the news. It is just so damn HARD sometimes. But hang in there. I try to expect the worst and hope for the best. I'll give you a quick history... Diagnosed January 2003 with rectal cancer. Radiation/chemo, surgery, chemo... Follow up CT 2 weeks after finishing tx... Multiple, bilateral lung mets. all less than 1 cm in size... Oncologist suggested a wait and see approach. I disagreed. I did 9 mths. of oxaliplatin/xeloda, a few rounds of FOLFIRI, had two thoracotomies, and more chemo. I am doing scans next week. CEA is stable at 2.1 and if all the scans are clear, I will officially be in NED. Oh yeah, in between the treatments, I have been on 6 trips, finished 36 credits (I am graduating in June), applied to graduate school, created some havoc in Montreal :), worry my mother to death.... You know, fun kid stuff (I am 22).

Please know, there is HOPE. There is life before, during and after treatment. There is hope. It may not be metastases. There is hope.

A turkey is calling my name, so I have to go. But I'm sending all my love out to your family. Hang in there. Please keep me posted, and ask any questions. I'll be happy to get back to you.

Lots of love and positive thoughts,

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Mary,
So sorry to learn this news. I was also diagnosed with rectal cancer (Dec 2002). I don't have personal experience with lung nodules or mets but I have certainly heard on this board of folk who have had them and tackled them by surgery and/or chemo. Ask your drs. lots of questions, seek second opinion if you think it would be useful. And please keep us updated. We are all rooting for you!

Posts: 708
Joined: May 2004


Hi. I was diagnosed at age 32 with rectal cancer. Had chemo/rad, APR surgery, chemo, small remission, then a lung met. I then had a thoracotomy and removed the only met found (just one) then did chemo again. My most recent CT found another lung met, on the other side... it hasn't grown; so I wait for the next CT in a few months to see if it has gotten any bigger.
Like you I am a "healthy non-smoker".
I get my care from MD ANderson and my doctors are very aggressive AND I appreciate them! My one nodule was very small; my PET scan was negative, but the aggressive docs at MDA went in for it and I am so glad they did.
During all my treatments, I finished residency and am now a faculty doctor.
YOU CAN DO IT ALL. Definately take it one step at a time. If surgery isn't an option, get a second opinion. If all the nodules are indeed less than 1 cm, a PET scan may be false negative for them all. Just take it all in step by step and make sure to get all your options so you can make an informed decision.
A friend of mine who is a radiation onc. told me they go "apple picking" where they zap little lung mets that are inoperable.
There are MANY options - never loose hope.

Try to enjoy the holidays. I will be thinking of you. jana

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1363
Joined: Dec 2003

Hi Mary: the PET can light up faster growing cells,but I'm told it can't see below 1mm..I am 4th stage rectal cancer with mets to lungs last Dec. Chemo got 15 of them, and targeted radiation sent all but one nodule packing. Presently dx's "stable disease" (Oxymoron?) & waiting a few months to see if anything grows..if you are positive, and inoperable, IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) could be an option..word search it on this site. Bud

nanuk's picture
Posts: 1363
Joined: Dec 2003

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04:59 PM EDT Re: Radiation Therapy [reply]

sorry to hear about this. my husband had radiation in the lower pelvic area. he had IMRT (intensity modulated radiation therapy) -- see if you can have this as it minimizes damage to areas that don't need to be treated. my husband tolerated treatments well -- seemed like main side effect was exhaustion. all the best to you tomorrow and always.

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