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Stage 3A lung cancer after surgery??? Survival???

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2011

My mom (age 73 and in great health) was diagnosed in October, with lung cancer. She had surgery to remove the tumor over Thanksgiving. We were told, after her biopsy that it is stage 3A and has affected some of the lymph nodes close to the tumor but not the ones farther away. She is home now and doing very well. We have our first appointment with an oncologist today, but from most of the things I have read, the survival rate is very low. Has anyone out there survived these circumstances???

Ex_Rock_n_Roller's picture
Posts: 281
Joined: Mar 2011

In order for the answer to have any meaning, based of course on what we fellow afflicted (stage 3B inoperable here) have experienced and can offer you, you'd need to specify what you mean by "survive." How many years of good quality of life would you or your mom equate to survival?

If by that you mean something equivalent to having your tonsils out and never experiencing the problem again, the odds are extremely low, especially with stage 3. Those stats are what you see when you research the net. They're obviously derived from huge numbers of people, and among those numbers are unfortunate souls who survive for a very short time after diagnosis, thereby driving down the average. It's simple math. But no single person is described by a population statistic, even if that's the number you'd use as a predictor in the absence of any detail about the individual.

I think most of us consider ourselves long-term survivors if we're measuring our quality time after diagnosis in years (any number) rather than months or weeks, and even that's a personal matter. There are certainly a number of people on here who have some pretty good time under their belt, and great attitudes to go with it. At my one-year check, my onco, in attempting to boost me up a bit, let on that he was having the guy after whom the cancer center was named (i.e. a megabuck donor) in for his fifteen year followup that very afternoon. This guy was staged exactly as I was, and back in the day when treatments presumably weren't as good as they are now.

So, very long-term survival can happen, but you can't bet the farm on it. By the way, asking this question of the oncologist is likely to produce a very vague answer. They just don't know. I would predict you're likely to hear a discussion of your mom's particular advantages that would tend to tilt the playing field in her favor.

Being of a biology and statistics background, I thought better than even to ask my guy, but he did lay out the positives for me (e.g. relatively young, physically fit, small volume of disease, no distant spread) so as to emphasize the silver lining in the cloud. And so far, he's been right (knock wood and whistle).

Best of luck to your mom. She sounds like she's got some significant factors going for her.

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