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Questions for the Surgeon

72827696
Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2009

What should i ask, about? What could go wrong? What do i wont to Know?

cabbott
Posts: 1048
Joined: Aug 2006

If you are posting here, I'm assuming you want to know if you have lung cancer and if the doctor can remove it. What kind of operation is planned will depend on where your problem is and what the surgeon's abilities are. Some are trained as general surgeons and some are thoracic (chest)specialists. Some of those specialists know how to do something called VATS (Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery) and some don't. I wouldn't expect a general surgeon to do VATS at all, though they can certainly remove a tumor safely and completely using the techniques they know. VATS is something like laproscopy on the chest and makes recovery a lot shorter because the incisions are much much smaller (I had three that could be covered with bandaids the 1st time around but had to have further surgery 10 days later that was a modified VATS and one cut was 4.5 inches. I ouch thinking about that!). Often it can be done instead of the usual operations that require large incisions and long recovery time. But sometimes a problem is where the doctors can reach it another way altogether (like if it is at the top of the lung). If you are still at the biopsy stage and don't even know if it is cancer, they may be able to do a needle biopsy if it is close to the outside and not do an incision at all. Be aware that cancer isn't cancer until the pathologist sees it under the microscope. Things that show on CAT scans and the like sometimes look like cancer and sometimes aren't. And sometimes they are. Either way, don't panic.

If you already know you have cancer, you have to meet with the surgeon to determine if removing it is possible. The surgeon will run lots of tests to determine how much surgery you can weather without too many hardships. I had to have pulmonary tests, cardiac tests, and a physical before I could be considered for surgery. The surgeon had to know going in what I could endure without ending up handicapped. Even though tests showed that I could do okay with losing up to one whole lung and the doctor only removed 1/3 of my right lung (in the second operation), I found recovery to be hard work. I was in the hospital for about 5 days. The doctors and nurses were great both at the hospital and once I got home. It took more time at home to get back on my feet. After surgery I met with the oncologist to determine if I would need chemo. I didn't, at least not yet. But I still have rechecks. Right now rechecks are every 6 months, but at first it was a lot more often. Folks on this board helped me through many of the problems that crop up during recovery (and they are still helping me years later!). You need to know that lung surgery isn't something you do as day surgery. It is serious intervention for a potentially life threatening situation. Sometimes surgery itself is curative and sometimes it needs to be followed by chemo. Get the best surgeon you can, work with him or her, and ask for help when you need it. And come back here and let folks here help whenever you need it. Good luck!

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