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can't breath

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2006

My dad was diagnosed in january with non small cell lung cancer, stage IV. He had to have his lung drained from all the fluid that built up in his lung from the cancer and he had to have talc put in to keep the lung expanded. He was having a difficult time breathing before the procedure (in january 2006), but now his breathing seems to be getting worse. He had radiation for two weeks in february and has had chemo twice so far (carbo/taxol). Anyone else experiencing a difficult time breathing, even after the lung was drained? My dad's doctor tests his blood/oxygen levels and they are always good - in the mid 90s. He even has my dad walk around to see if that will cause the oxygen level to drop - but instead it causes the oxygen to go up. He is not a candidate for oxygen because his oxygen levels are good. The doctor said that his breathing problems could be a result of his surgery, but it has been about 2 1/2 months since the surgery - wouldn't it have been improving by now? Not really sure what to do to help my dad. He can't really move around, etc. because he loses his breath very easily. so he is basically stuck at home watching TV. He has cabin fever and I think it is starting to make him really depressed. any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

reinstones1's picture
Posts: 92
Joined: Feb 2006

Hello-- my Mom was diagnosed with NSCLC in 12/05. She's been undergoing chemo since the end of January 06. She also had pleurodesis performed with talc (what you're describing your dad had done), and later with doxycycline, to stop fluid from accumulating in the pleural space around her right lung. Are his doctors verifying that his procedure was successful, and that the fluid isn't re-accumulating? Because obviously if the fluid comes back, he will become breathless again, as the accumulated fluid prevents the lung from expanding fully when he takes a breath.

That said, my mother's pleural effusion problem WAS successfully solved via pleurodesis, but she is STILL breathless. Sometimes more than others, but she definitely has SOBOE (shortness of breath on exertion). Chemotherapy also makes some people short of breath. Shortness of breath can be a sign of allergic reaction to chemo, but I'm assuming that his doctors would be aware if he were having an allergic reaction?

Anyway, given my experience with 1) lung cancer, 2) pleurodesis with talc and 3) subsequent chemotherapy, I really don't think it's uncommon to be short of breath and tire easily. We have certainly experienced this with my Mom.

Plymouthean's picture
Posts: 264
Joined: Jan 2004

Hi. At age 67, I had an upper right lobectomy. I had serious breathing problems for awhile, post surgery. I realize that your father has not had surgery, but the symptoms are the same. Inability to draw a deep breath often causes anxiety, which, in turn, makes the inherent depression and frustration worse. I have two suggestions, both of which helped me. Try to get your father into an area of fresh air, occasionally, if possible. Our homes, without our realizing, can become very "stuffy" at this time of year. I realize that it is difficult for him to move around, but, even if he moves just a little at a time, from chair to chair, to get him to the fresh(er) air, it should be worth the effort. I had attacks of anxiety when I had difficulty breathing. The doctor prescribed anti-anxiety medication (Atavan/Lorazepam 2mg.) taken as needed. That calmed me, and I was much less stressed by the breathing difficulty. Best wishes to you and your Dad. You arein my prayers.

Posts: 22
Joined: Feb 2006

Hi, my dad also had a pleural effusion. He is staged IIIB nsclc. He couldn't breath to the point that he had to be taken to the hospital. It seems that he had 4 litres of fluid in his lungs. They performed a pleurodesis and drained him and then inserted the talc. That was done in February. He has since had three more rounds of chemo with this week being his last of three and then off for one week before he starts again. My dad's day consists of sitting and watching TV also as he gets winded and labored from any exertion. His doctor said his lungs are clear, but his pressure is a little low and his blood levels are low. However, from what I hear and read the fatigue and shortness of breath can be from the chemo alone. The chemo knocks the heck out of you and it is no wonder that any exertion at all can cause you to feel fatigued and short of breath. We are hoping that with his short break from chemo next week he can regroup and hopefully feel a little more inclined to go outside for some fresh air. I think this is just par for the course.

Posts: 5
Joined: Jan 2006

My dad is doing okay - his lung is still fully expanded - so that is good. He is still really out of breath. He just saw the oncologist yesterday and he said that he had a little bit of fluid in his lungs (from the chemo - which he said was normal) The oncologist put him on a water pill. I really do no think that this is the cause of his breathing problems. I wish there was something I could do - but there does not seem like there is much that can be done.

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