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

Responses: 42


Updated April 24, 2009

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. Share Your Story

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

Lung issues nodules vs grounded glass .

I have been going to Roswell since 2009 I AM ONLY 31 .. I went with lower right pain it was a cyst . But they found on growths on lungs . Said go get CT scans every 3-6 months from now on . I cried cause my dad and uncle died of lung cancer when 41-42 yrs of age ... I hate this . Now they said it turned into grounded glass ones . ,My lower right lung in my back hurts so BAD .WHY r they not doing anything to take them out they found sooo early yea know . I don't go to roswell no more . I think they suck , He was so mean to me as well . God I am sick that's all I need is a doctor to tell me I have 9 yrs left I am gunna look like shit being on oxygen 24-7 when I am only 31 yrs old . He hurt my feelings. I been smoking for 18 yrs . Yep crazy huh . My mom would buy me cartons at the age of 13 .. God wish she never did . BUT my fault for smoking as well but maybe since inn my jeans I would have no matter what . I have to quit its so dam hard . I go to a new lung doc now . He is nice next Editor's note: It sounds like a second opinion like you are getting is very important. Make sure you find a doctor that addresses your symptoms. Make sure your doctor knows your family history as you may have a hereditary predisposition. Here is an article which discusses that: http://lungcancer.about.com/od/causesoflungcance1/a/famhxlungca.htm Here is an article on ground glass nodules that you could bring to discuss with your doctor: http://www.ajronline.org/doi/full/10.2214/AJR.10.5813 Thankfully a recent study found that 90% of ground glass nodules didn't grow on long term follow up http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22797081 A reassuring thing about ground glass nodules if they are cancerous is that they often mean bronchioloalveolar carcinoma -- a type of lung cancer that is highly curable.
—Guest Krystal Michele C

Severe abdominal pains

I had severe abdominal pains, went to see the dr who ordered a ct scan w contrast. I waited 3 hrs & finally I was going to walk out the door. I got to the door stopped & turned back to wait. Finally they called my name and I remember the machine going up to my collar bone. They told me I should get results next wk- my dr called me & said they needed me to re-do the scan. They saw a spot but needed to confirm what they saw. June 12th I did the ct scan and that afternoon my dr called me & told me I have a mass on my right middle lobe which is maglinant. I was in shocked, I kept this to myself overnight & the next day I called him back. I told him I am calm & repeat the result. He confirmed that I have a mass, it's maglinant & he is referring me to a pulmonary specialist and lung surgeon. I had a needle biospy which confirmed it was maglinant, it was an aggressive cancer, star shaped mass. Had pet scan done, breathing test & surgery on July 12th. To think I almost left!

small cell lung cancer - memory loss

My father (age 59) was diagnosed with extensive stage lung cancer metasized to his brain (30+tumors) 2 weeks ago. He went into immediate radiation for 10 days, his prognosis is terminal with 3 months. He smoked 3 packs of smokes for 40 years and welded for 35 years. It was a terrible shock he had some symptoms but he drank so we thought it was his drinking. He really isn't showing many symptoms just some short term memory loss. It is hard to image he is terminal when he is acting like he feels fine. Editor's note: Unfortunately it's not uncommon for small cell lung cancer (unlike non-small cell lung cancer) to be diagnosed after it has spread to the brain. I am sorry you have to face this.
—Guest sad daughter

Tired, Speech Difficulty and Memory

Mom came home one day looking tired and her speech were a bit difficult - hard to remember some words. That made us think perhaps she was just tired due to outing. We figured that she started become a vegan about 2 years ago, perhaps due to vitamin deficiency and mom bought some vitamin B12 pills from the pharmacy and told us it is ok, she doesnt need a doctor and she wants to monitor for 1-2 weeks. As a daughter, as her symptoms of speech difficulty, some minor memory issues and tiredness for about 1 week, I brought her to see a doctor at a local clinic. The doctor thinks it could be mini-stroke of something, so referred to see a neurologist at a local hospital. 3 days later at the appointment, the neurologist ordered for a blood test and found she has high tumor marker. Referred to an oncologist the very next day where he advised to do MRI to her brain 2 days later, mom were diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. CT/PET scan and biopsy confirmed it was lung cancer with brain mets.
—Guest Jess8888

Get a CT scan

I was at church on a Sat morning and was having left arm pain. I thought I was having a heart attack. I drove myself to the Hospital and they said that I had cancer on my lungs. They have been watching these nodules for six years. They did not light up on a PET scan until this year. Fast forward. I got pneumonia in January and they ran another CT scan and the nodules have grown a little. Three biopsies later and it is small cell cancer. The only pain I had was arm pain. If you smoke or are around smokers, get a CT scan yearly. Don't sqaubble about the price. A chest xray will only show a mass that is large. By that time, it may be too late. Lung Cancer is the silent killer. Many times it metastizes before we realize that we have it. So far, I am on the watch and wait regimend. Really scary. Four chemos and no radiation. Radiation will rip my lungs apart. That is what I was told and i believe them. Good luck to all of us. God Speed.

Had x-rays every 6 months

my husband has had a xray every 6 months and was all normal until last one,black density mass,,,now be set up for pet scan,,we r 77 and 78,,smokers,,this is all so new to usas we hav been so active with kids,,how do u make a choice,,chemo,,radiation,,meds surgery or do nothing,,,this is such a shock all of sudden,,,he has doctered for copd for years and was doing gt,,,thanks to each of u for your stories as they hav helped us understand more,,computers r such a educational way to learn about such thngs,,especially at our age,,,blessings to all of you,,pray for u

Flu, Back and Shoulder Pain

I lost my beloved husband only after 7 months of being diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He had trained for a half marathon and had just returned from a business trip. He thought he had the flu, had back and shoulder pain. Went in for test after test after test ...finally 2 months later "they" figured out what he had...STAGE 4 LUNG CANCER....never smoked, eat right, worked out every day...go figure! Please get yourself checked, you never too young or too old....Lung cancer can happen to anyone...like my beloved husband, whom I miss every single day....
—Guest Paula

Undetected lung cancer

My cousin was diagnosed with stage IV terminal lung cancer in spring of 2006 and died in summer of 2008. He was 66 when diagnosed. I saw his blood work and physical results for 3 years prior and even up to 4 months before, his bloodwork was perfect. Not good. Perfect. He had totally normal chest xrays for 3 years prior to diagnosis. He only found out how sick he was when he felt a lump in his armpit. My question is how could all his physicals be so perfect, he had no cough or pain or symptoms, yet was dying? Isnt there any indicator at all that one has lung cancer? He had 7 full round of different chemo, finally had a stroke from the last treatment, and died a few weeks after. Very sad. Editor's note: Unfortunately, your cousin is not alone. At least 40% of people are already at stage 4 by the time they are diagnosed. We very badly need a screening test to detect lung cancer early -- as we have for colon cancer for example. Thankfully research is in progress addressing this. That said, I'm so sorry for your loss, and that we aren't there yet...
—Guest Sam

CT better than X-ray

3 years ago my PCP wanted me to have a CT scan to rule out a pulmenary emboli. I felt sure I didnt have a PE almost didnt go 4 the scan. I was right no PE but showed a small nodlule on middle lobe of lung. biopsy confirmemed it was cancer. I WENT TO A SURGEON HE did a VATS PROCEDURE GOT IT ALL NO RADIATION NO CHEMO. PET SCAN LAST MONTH SHOWS NO CANCER. I so wish all of u were as lucky as me. Dont let a doctor tell u an XRAY is as good as CT MRI. xray doesnt show what I had. PRAYERS TO YOU ALL

Lungs whistling

My hubby is 11 yrs younger than me but I worry he may have lung cancer he whistles in his sleep has fatigue however he drives long distance to work and back but coughs every morn and has done for the 15 yrs I've known him ,,,he has smoked everyday for 25 yrs Editor's note: It's important that your husband is checked out by his doctor. His symptom of whistling in his sleep could be due to an airway obstruction and there are many causes of this. Not just lung cancer, but problems such as sleep apnea are treatable and the treatments can make a difference if many of these conditions are detected early.
—Guest sonya

accidentally found

accidentally, they have found a 2.m nodule on my right lung.... i was so afraid... this monday i am scheduled for an MRI to let the doctors know what have they found on my xray... i was really afraid..but happy to find you here..... it gives me so much information about my situation....please pray that it is not cancer....God is good all the time.... Editor's note: Will keep you in my thoughts and prayers that it isn't cancer.
—Guest matilde

Moms signs of stage 4 lung cancer

My mother passed this last week of stage 4 lung cancer after being diagnosed with it for only four days. There were so many signs that were ignored by her physician and me only being uneducated on cancer. About two years ago mom gained a lot of abdominal weight. She hardly ever ate. She began to become tired and we thought was just depressed and lazy. The Dr. Started her on many pshyc meds and treated only psychiatricaly. So about 6 months ago momma developed a horrible cough and weird breathing patterns.They diagnosed her with COPD and then changed the diagnosis to walking Phnemonia. She would become very distant with everyone. WE started seeing less of her on facebook and no phone calls. I took her to Dr. at least 32 times one year only to be sent home saying the same thing that she had phnemonia and mental problems. Her breathing was horrible and had a breathing mask on most the time. She then suffered a fracture of the right shoulder by laying there on the couch.

My mother was taken from me by cancer!

I just lost my best friend, my mother, and my world this week to stage 4 cancer. Mother had been sick for quiet some time. In a year and a half I took her to about 68 DR appts and maybe 20 hospital ER visits only to be told she was suffering from long-term pneumonia and respiratory problems. Then she had severe pain in her left shoulder so I took her in and they said she had a fracture on the left shoulder.We told the Dr. that she didn't fall or bump into anything. We couldn't believe she had a fracture. So we thought nothing of it and would joke about how she was always lazy lately and never got off the couch so how could she break it doing nothing due to her being fatigued? Well some time passed and the shoulder was not improving. The Dr, referred mom to an orthopedic but with so many mistakes on referring her out it took them 8 months to get her in for an appt. SHe had stage 4 cancer and died 4 days later. Why did they miss all the signs of cancer? She didn't even get a chance.
—Guest Lara Cain

Heart palpitations, headaches

My 49 yr old niece went to the dr Monday because of headaches that were waking her up during the night. She was diagnosed with brain metastasis lung cancer. Wow! What a shock. She had seen her dr two months ago, because of heart palpitations. Tests were inconclusive and there was no planned follow up. Guess what? I read on a website that heart palpitations can be a symptom of lung cancer. Too bad the dr didn't follow up to find out the cause of her heart palpitations. Her 25 year old son and 24 year old daughter are really having a hard time with the possibility of losing their mom.
—Guest TamsAuntJ

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