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Seeking info about lung biospy w/VATS

lesvanb's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

Hello all

short story:
My PET/CT just this Thursday had inconclusive results. 3 nodules in lungs grew to 5, 6, 9 mm (about 1 to 3 mm growth). The 9 mm one lit up at 2.8 SUV. CEA however continues to drop (0.9 Thursday; 5.5 at dx) and is a good indicator of disease activity for me according to my doc. Doc suggested lung biopsy by thoracic surgeon via VATS on 9 mm one because it's close to a major vessel. Biopsy can prove it's cancer but cannot rule out cancer if nothing is found.

Has anyone had experience with lung biopsies here and would you please share? Any comments on if radiation can be used on lung mets would also be helpful. I have gone from NED (no evidence of disease) to WAED (worried about evidence of disease) status.

all the best, Leslie

JDuke's picture
Posts: 443
Joined: Nov 2009

I had the VATS procedure on May 11 to biopsy a thickening in my pleura. It required a 3 day hospital stay. I was completely sedated. They went down my throat and deflated my left lung then turned me over on my side and made two small incisions under my shoulder blade. One for the camera and one for the instrument. After the biopsy there was a larger incision for the drains that I had for two days. Breathing was somewhat difficult post surgery - they had me on a monitor that beeped everytime my breathing got shallow, just to scare you into breathing deeper I guess :) My surgeon does not believe in the gizmo that you breath into to get your lung capacity back up. Had a catheter and two IV's, one of which was for pain medication that I could administer myself every 6 minutes. They had me up walking the evening of the procedure. I was terrified of getting the drains and the catheter out, neither of which was too bad. Have to admit that the nurse told me about what time I should expect it to happen and suggested that I start loading up on pain meds about 30 minutes before. Good advice. It has been a month and I still have some discomfort under my breast and at the top of my rib cage. Other than that it was pretty much textbook and certainly not as bad I as was expecting.

Hope this was helpful. Wishing you the best.

Posts: 1961
Joined: Aug 2003

Hi Leslie. I had 2-3 attempts at lung biopsy - using bronchoscopy (?) and also needle biopsy with guided CT. None were successful (I had very small and awkwardly placed lesions!). But I did have a small lesion removed by VATS - twice. For me, the procedure went well. I had general anesthetic. Patient-controlled pain med for about 24 hrs. But I was up and out of bed within 24 hrs and walking around shortly thereafter. My recovery went smoothly. If you have the VATS, my recommendation would be to get good pain control and to walk as much as possible afterwards (as with any surgery!). Meanwhile, keeping all my fingers and toes crossed that it is benign....


lesvanb's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

Your replies are very helpful in formulating questions for the surgeon and making a decision. Also helps hearing about your experiences with the procedure. From the info I've been gathering VATS for small awkwardly placed lung nodules are more effective than needle or bronchioscopy (sp?). There's the thought of removing the nodule right then whether benign or not since any type of growth near a major vessel is threatening.

Yes, we hope its benign! Meanwhile I've upped the modified citrus pectin from one to three/5 grams powder/day as per the protocol for advanced prostate tumors since MCP has been shown to be effective for other metastatic solid tumors such as breast and colon.

all the best, Leslie

Posts: 211
Joined: May 2009


I had a lung biopsy done by VATS in January. It sounds very similar to Joanne's experience. I was in the hospital for 3 days. I had 3 biopsies done. I had the big tube for the drain and the catheter. I became very ill from the anethesia, and was vomiting for 2 days. They told me that was very unusual. The incision sites were tender for a couple of months. I was able to go back to work full time after a week and a half, and was back to all normal acitivities, like skiing, 4 weeks later.

Good Luck,

lesvanb's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

It's great to gather everyone's experiences. You time line for how long it took you to go back to work is helpful.

all the best, Leslie

Annabelle41415's picture
Posts: 6687
Joined: Feb 2009

Have not had that happen to me but wanted to let you know that your are in my thoughts for the best for your situation. Hoping for the best outcome.


Posts: 1736
Joined: Jul 2007

WHen I had my lung biopsy it was done with a needle and guided by CT scanner thingy. It hurt, I was awake, but I survived it. THen surgery came and blah blah blah, you know the rest.

I am praying for you and keeping you in my thoughts. ALl the best to you my friend.


luv3jay's picture
Posts: 534
Joined: May 2009

I had 4 tumors removed by VATS last August. It was a very minor procedure compared to the rest that I've had. Hospital stay should have only been one night (although mine turned into 5 due to other complications that had nothing to do with the surgery). Hopefully, everything will turn out well for you and you will still be NED.


lesvanb's picture
Posts: 911
Joined: May 2008

I see my oncologist July 1 and the thoracic surgeon July 12. all of your responses helps me line out the questions for the docs....and I continue working to keep my immune system strong.

thanks for all you well wishes!

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