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Husband has stage 3A lung cancer; should he have surgery?

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2010

My husband who is 57 years old was recently diagnosed with stage 3A lung cancer (large cell carcinoma). He just finished his first round of chemo and next round starts 3/29. Also just finished 3 weeks of radiation 5 times a week and has 3 more weeks to go. Originally the medical and raditation oncologist recommeded surgery to remove the left upper lobe and possible nearby lumph nodes which are sitting on the pulmonary artery. We went for a 2nd opinion at UW Madison and were told by their medical and radiation oncologists that surgery had not proven to extend a lung cancer patients life. We would prefer not to have the surgery however want to do it if this will extend his life obviously. We need to make a decision soon since we are told if we are not considering surgery they will do the full six weeks of high dose radiation. However, if we will consider surgery they will lessen the frequency of raditaion being done since the radiation will make the surgery more difficult. Anyone who has a similar scenario to share? Did you have surgery? Anything else you can share? Thanks.

Posts: 18
Joined: Mar 2010

I was recently diagnosed with stage 3a non small cell lung cancer. I was also told surgery was not an option. Here are the reasons I was told. First I was given a pulmonary function test that I had to pass. I failed it miserably due to the blockage from the tumor. Second I was told surgery was not an option because of the intense radiation treatment I will have. I have not started radiation/chemo treatment yet, but should this week. I will have radiation 5 days a week for 7 weeks and 4 chemo sessions 3 weeks apart.
I also have read a lot about my type of cancer and read on webmd.com that a cancer above stage 2 rarely have surgery.
I hope my input helps and you find the guidance you need. Everyone's treatments and doctors' opinions are different, but we all understand what you are going through.
Nothing says you can't ask for a third opinion either. It's a lot to absorb and it is a very important decision, so do what feels right in your hearts.
Best of luck and keep the faith!

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2010

Thanks for the reply. At this point we do not know if surgery is an option and are told we won't know until the 2nd round of chemo is done and then two weeks after that he needs the pet scan, the brain mri and also a nuclear medicine test for breathing. After all of that they will tell us if he eligible to have surgery and if they tell us that we are not sure whether he should have it or not. I believe you are right and we'll have to reach out for more opinions as to whether he should have surgery or not. Good luck!!

Posts: 5
Joined: Mar 2010

I had a tumor very low and close too my heart, a biopsy was unsuccessful; In Jan. this year, I ended up having my lower lobe, lymph node removed to diagnose the FNHL, in Stage 4, A cell and will be starting Chemo in another week to hopefully keep it from returning! I am very blessed that I had the forthright to push my Dr. to do surgery and remove my tumor and lymph node.

I pray you and your Husband make the right decision...if I hadn't had the surgery I would have surely died, as my Dr. was just going to do scans every 3 months to see if it "changed"; I am unable to have MRIs as I have a pacemaker.

I'll be starting Chemo next week, once a week every 3 weeks for 6 months and pray it doesn't come back; but no guarantees, Right?

But I'm rambling so I will close for now; Take care and know We're all in God's Hands!

ps: If God is your Co-Pilot, change seats! ;-)

soccerfreaks's picture
Posts: 2800
Joined: Sep 2006

Um, that might depend on the god to whom you are referring. For example, I would be rather reticent to give up the pilot's seat (even if I do not know how to fly) to the god loki, the Norse god of mischief and mayhem. These days, a lot of people would not want to cede the controls to allah either.

I even have doubts about the one you are no doubt referring to. I would not want him to go all old testament on me 30,000 feet above the firmness of earth.

Me, I wonder what happened to people relying on themselves, on family, friends, neighbors, to get things done.

Take care,


stayingcalm's picture
Posts: 654
Joined: Feb 2007

I might be a little worried about Shiva, too, because of his sobriquet "The Destroyer"! Of course, he just might be an excellent pilot, having extra arms could be a plus :)

My particular pet peeve is the way people tend to criticise their medical experts and then credit their god(s) for a remission :(


medi_2's picture
Posts: 509
Joined: Aug 2009

Ha, ha Joe! Your changing seats reply reminds me of the little ditty: 'Give Me a Ride to Heaven Boy' by Terry Allen. ;)

Posts: 45
Joined: Jan 2010

Did you have c in your lymph nodes, and will you be getting radiation. How was the surgery afterwards. Were you in the hospital a long time. alot of pain?

Posts: 4
Joined: Jul 2010

here is a decent article on what to expect for stage 3 surgery: http://www.ehow.com/about_5220838_expect-lung-cancer-stage-3.html

I know this is ehow, but this article had some interesting info on it...



don09's picture
Posts: 108
Joined: Dec 2009

Hi my wife was diagnosed with 3-a right upper lobe in Oct 09.She went threw 7 weeks Radiation and 6 chemo's. Her tumor shrunk 50% In February she had surgery, unfortunately the tumor was to close to the suppieor vena cava a major artery,the sugeon feared to much bleeding to remove it, so they backed out.She is now just finishing 2 more chem`s and 8 radiations. She is full of Faith as am I,only the good Lord knows the day he will take us home,please keep your faith as we will do the same God Bless Don@Kathy

Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2004

I am almost a 7 year lung cancer survivor who was diagnosed at 3A in April 2003. Treatments have changed but I had two rounds of chemo followed by 33 days of radiation along with six rounds of chemo. Approximately 1 month after chemo and radiation, I did have surgery where the upper right lobe of my lung was removed. After a period of healing, I did have more chemo. I just graduated to seeing my oncologist every six months. Ask questions, you are your own best advocate. All my best. Keep the faith.

mamacita5's picture
Posts: 254
Joined: May 2010

I did have surgery, but I will preface that with the fact that I was staged at 1b and then changed to 3a after my surgeon removed lymph nodes that tested positive. I am post chemo and rads and doing very well. Back to work and starting a yoga class tonight. Click on my name to read my profile to get the details of surgery etc. Good luck to you.

Posts: 15
Joined: Mar 2011

I am going through tests for staging of my lung cancer, but initial indications are that it may be 3a. So your comments are very helpful.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jun 2011

Hey All,

Just starting treatments next week. Dr. said stage 3a. Said I'm in good health besides the 3a. It's wrapped around the aorta to the lung. Dr. hopes to shrink it and scrape it away from the aorta, and remove it. Right now it around 10-11 cm. Any comments would be appreciated.

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