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Readers Respond: What Symptoms Led to Your Diagnosis of Lung Cancer?

Responses: 22


Updated January 25, 2015

From the article: Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Finding lung cancer early is our goal, but often the symptoms of lung cancer are missed for a period of time. A chronic cough or shortness of breath might be attributed to bronchitis, allergies, or even normal aging. Some symptoms of lung cancer are vague, such as fatigue, or atypical, such as knee pain. Some people have no symptoms. What symptoms led to your diagnosis of lung cancer? Please share your story, or a tip you would like to share with others if they experience these symptoms.

Nodules on my lung/back pain

I was in hospital in January for an infection and they found nodules on my lungs the doctor said it was nothing to worry about but come back in October for a c t scan now I am having bad pain in my back and right breast I am really worried has any one else ever had this? Editor's note: Back pain can be a symptom of lung cancer - even the first symptom, though there are many other conditions that are more likely to cause back pain. This article: http://lungcancer.about.com/od/symptoms/a/Back-Pain-Lung-Cancer.htm discuses some of the ways in which back pain related to lung cancer may be different, but the bottom line is that back pain related to lung cancer can be just like back pain related to other things such as arthritis. It is very important that your doctor carefully evaluate you, and she may wish to do further studies. It's also important to note that there are many types of lung nodules - some may be suspicious for lung cancer, and others are not suspicious at all and are nothing to worry about. Here is an article that talks about different types of lung nodules in some depth: http://lungcancer.about.com/od/symptoms/a/Lung-Nodules.htm but again it is important that your doctor re-review your CT finding of nodules in light of your new symptoms.
—Guest Cath

Leg Pain

I was on vacation, and noticed my feet and legs swollen, I was feeling fatigued. When I came back from vacation, my children brought me to the hospital, I had a chest X ray and was diagnosed with stage IV Lung cancer, I was given 6 months to live, this was on 15. Nov. 2006, I'm still here, 6 years later. I have had chemo, 36 radiation treatments, "Tarceva", I'm on no treatments now, I feel wonderful, you just have to stay strong, I have wonderful Dr, they have given me lots of xtra time with Lung Cancer. I'm a Survivor.
—Guest Rene

Be Your Own Advocate

3 yrs ago,I had a pulled muscle sensation on the right side of my neck when taking a deep breath. Smoked for 30 yrs. but had quit18 yrs ago. Had x-ray, negative. Feeling persisted. Had thyroid ultrasound, negative. Feeling persisted.Told PCP I need to get to bottom of this because it shouldn't persist. PCP said that rotator cuff injuries don't heal & it's probably something like that. I had him set up an appointment with a thoracic surgeon & had a CT scan. Went to surgeon's office ALONE to discuss results & was told that I had lung cancer. It was staged 3A. This was Jan.2011 My (now ex) PCP said that he didn't order a CT scan because "the U.S. Task Force" doesn't recommend it. i.e. the insurance companies. (It is NOW recommended for at risk patients) It didn't appear on the x-ray because it was very high up in my upper right lobe. Had chemo, surgery at Dana Farber & then radiation. Moral of story: follow your instincts!
—Guest guestlaurie

The Wife

My husband had no symptoms except 2 1/2 wks of pneumonia in Jan. 2012, with back pain. When the "P" was over and still had back pain docs did a chest x-ray, MRI, and blood tests. First they told us multiple myloma but later determined it was non-small cell lung cancer carcinoma and it had matastisized to his thoratic spine and his liver. In March he lost his voice (possible pressure on a nerve or tumor touching his vocal chords)and in April, 12 days in the hospital with pneumonitis. Because of a mutated gene he can take "Tarceva" a targeted cancer treatment pill, which he takes every morn on an empty stomach and he had 13 Radiation treatments. He is weak, shaky, on 8 L of oxygen and needs assistance with walking with a walker, going to the RR and even getting dressed. He needs a wheelchair when visiting a doc. It's so hard seeing a farmer doing it all in Jan. to being so dependent on everyone in a matter of months. We don't know how much time we have but are making the best of it

bronchitis and shortness of breath

3 weeks ago sunday i went to the ER for bronchitis/shortness of breath worsening over several days. they did a chest x-ray and said i had a large mass on my right lung that was significantly larger than it was on an x-ray from 2008 and i should see my doctor the very next day. since then i have had CTscans, CT-guided needle biopsy, brain scan and PET scan - have recieved a preliminary diagnosis of a fist-sized tumor of non-small cell lung cancer in my chest. today they'll tell me if/where it has traveled. based on all that, what they can offer me in the way of treatment and prognosis. can't begin to explain to you how i felt/feel when i learned at the ER there was a chance 4 years ago to catch/stop this but someone dropped the ball and didn't bother to tell the patient and no one else seemed to care. The lesson here: ALWAYS follow-up on your own medical tests - don't assume they'll get in touch if a problem is indicated. assuming has sure made an ass out of me, hasn't it??!
—Guest rita

See a Doctor Regularly

After reading everyone's story I wanted to cry. My dad could do anything. He was building a new house - by himself - and had just retired from Ford two years previous. He began taking naps during the day but as he was 67, my brothers and sisters and I shrugged it off to advancing age. One day, after carrying a bag of dry cement, he went into his house because he was so fatigued and he felt his heart racing. My youngest sister lives only 1/2 mile away and brought him to the hospital that I work at. When I met them downstairs in the ER I was told he was in afib. I thought, no problem. I work in the cardiac field so I knew there were many options available. However, an xray showed pleural effusion and a pet scan showed a mass in the right lung. After being in the hospital for 3 days they told him he had stage 4 lung cancer. What puzzles me is that besides fatigue he stated he had no other symptoms and after only 17 days in the hospital he died on a ventilator. God Bless all of you.

Shoulder Pain

On Sunday October 11, 2011, I surpassed 2,000 miles on my bike for the year. The following day, I did the Bronx Cheer and felt a terrible pain in my shoulder. My doctor diagnosed it as rotater cuff tendinitis and told me to keep moving it. After a week, my wife made me get a second opinion. The orthopedic thought the collar bone was broken and sent me to get a CT Scan to be sure. He called back 2 hours later to say that I had a spot on my lung and enlarged lymph nodes. I then had a PET Scan. Afterwards, the dr said it didn't look too bad and we would just wait for 4-6 weeks and do another scan. A friend at work took the scans to a radiologist at a cancer hospital who got me into to an orthopedic oncologist. He scheduled a biopsy for Monday after the long Thanksgiving weekend. Took a walnut sized tumor out of my collarbone. Will have 2nd chemo tomorrow. Stage IV lung cancer. Editors note: Thank you for sharing your story so others can be alert to symptoms that aren't obvious as signs of lung cancer. My prayers and thoughts are with you and your family as I send positive energy your way. Shoulder pain - while more likely to be a symptom of a another condition, can be a symptoms of lung cancer.
—Guest Chuck

I thought i had a sinus infection.......

I thought I had what was a sinus infection headache. Nothing too bad that a simple ibuprophen couldn't take care of. After 11 weeks of this nuisance headache, I decided to go to the dr. for a prescription. Instead, she sent me for a CT scan because my headaches sometimes woke me up in the middle of the night. The next morning, she called me to tell me the results of my CT scan. She said that they found multiple lesions in my brain that had come from another source. She then sent me to the hospital for further testing. They found a lung cancer, adenocarcinoma was my diagnosis. Since that time, I have undergone 10 radiation treatments and so far, 1 chemo treatment of 4 scheduled. It's amazing that I have all this BAD stuff going on inside my body and I feel really good. If it hadn't been for the headache, I never would have gone to the dr. I just wonder how all this can be going on inside a persons body and them not have a clue. I'm thankful that I went to the dr when I did.
—Guest Sondra

Insensitive Drs

I'd like to let all drs know thats its not alright to tell your husband that he's got lung cancer at visiting time when he was alone after i'd arranged to meet the dr previously....all the visitors heard this news and heard my husband crying.the cancer had left my husband mute so he couldnt even ask questions the awful awful dr i hate him. Editors note: I am so sorry and sad to hear this happened to you. It is a good reminder to others to talk with your doctor and the hospital staff as a family and arrrange to hear any news when you are not alone. Unfortunately, it sounds like you took the needed steps and were an advocate for your husband, and he still was left alone to receive the news. I am glad you are speaking out here. The only way doctors will change is to see the effect that insensitivity and rushing has upon people living with the disease.
—Guest cameos

Repeated Cough, Breathlessness and fever

My dad was diagnosed with COPD 5 years back. He did have the cough earlier to that and had been a smoker for 40 years 2 packs a day which he quit 5 years ago. Then a couple of months ago he had recurring bouts of cough and fever and breathlessness and initially the X rays were taken and diagnosis was possible Pneumonia. Next month when the fever returned, X Ray was taken and CT scan suggested that indicated possible cancer in the lung. Followed up with Broncoscopy biopsy and confirmed with PET scan. If you have smoked, have a doctor monitor your X Rays atleast each year. He started on Tarceva 150mg due to reservations with Chemo due to ill health and this turned out to be too much due to side effects - rashes, severe stomach ache , dry mouth and total loss of appetite. It has made my dad almost immobile, weak and fatigued and now on constant oxygen. Looking at reducing the dosage of Tarceva and other options.
—Guest rs67

Relentless coughing

I have read all of your stories; it sounds like my story. About 3-4 months ago I started coughing relentlessly. I have a history of chronic bronchitis and pneumonia; so I didn't think much about about it. There was 2 differences; 1) no fever like usual and 2) no blood with what little speutem I had. So, about 3 weeks ago I had an x-ray; after the antibiotics, prednisone and the inhaler; I called him after the drugs ran out; he called another round of different drugs; after that he told me to have another x-ray (on a Friday); he told me that my xray still came back abnormal; and I'm having from a Friday to late Monday Afternoon to have a cat scan; So, here I sit wishing for monday to get here faster ...Or am I??? It would suit me if we didn't have mondays anymore... heres drinking to you kid. lakebum

Symptoms of Lung cancer

Fatigue, shortness of breath, knee pain, loss of appetitte, weight loss. Bronchitis that doesn't get better. My husband passed away April of 2011 and had all of these symptoms way before the lung cancer diagonsis. When he started the agressive treatment, take note of how fatigue takes over. My George did all he could and the ME said it is common for the aorta to rupture from the radiation. That is what happened. It was so sudden and sometimes the doctors not tell you that could even happen. The patient can let you know if all the treatments are too much and listen to what is not said. (Men do not complain the same way) silence is not golden.
—Guest Susan Blyth

Spouse with Lung Cancer

spouse with lung cancer, I so what to suport hin and don't know how! I am a survivour of breast cancer and have done all the chemo etc! and now I am lost! Editor's note: First answer - just love him. Second answer - as a breast cancer survivor myself I see how the stigma of lung cancer takes away so much from the support we feel as breast cancer survivors. Don't let anyone ask him if he smoked, and if they do, gently question why that should make a difference. Nobody deserves to get cancer.
—Guest Susan Blyth

Painful Cough

My partner was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2009, his first symptoms were a cough and soreness causing him to go in a leaning position when he wants to cough and short of breath. Since then he has been receiving chemotherapy every 3 weeks. About 3 weeks ago he was told that it spread behind his hernia and on the bone of the spine area. My partner is a workaholic and finds it very hard to accept this disease but keeps positive and keeps his spiritual beliefs.
—Guest Cyndell Pryor

Lung & Kidney cancer

I had shortness of breath and a real bad cough for 4 months. They diagnosed me with stage 4 lung and kidney cancer and stated they don't see much hope. But God is on my side. I am only 51 years old and not ready to give up. I have all the support from my wife and family. Me and my wife just got full custody of our grandson who we raised since a newborn. Hess now 6 years old so I have to fight this cancer I will live.
—Guest mario
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