Lung Nodule, What Does It Mean?
May 28, 2008 1:38 PM Subscribe
Paging all medicos - question about a lung nodule.
posted by Oriole Adams to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
My mom just recently told me that during her regular check-up, the doctor found a "nodule" in her lung via her chest X-Ray. Her primary care physician said that it was less than 5 cm, and he didn't "think it was anything," but yet he's scheduled her for a CT scan in June. Nevertheless during that same appointment he again reassured her that he didn't think it was anything, but on the other hand, if ("heaven forbid" - his words) it was something, he doesn't know what he would do if he were her.
Mom had a lumpectomy in the very early 90s (1992, I think), in which a malignant tumor less than 2cm was removed. Her lymph nodes were all clear, and she undewent many months of radiation therapy after the fact. Thirteen years later, another small lump (again, less than 2cm) was found on the other breast, a lumpectomy was performed, all lymph nodes were negative, and another series of radiation treatments ensued.
So now, during her routine check-up, this nodule is found. I did some Googling, and it mentioned that the probability of such a thing being cancerous increases with the patient's age. Mom will be 77 in July. I can't help but be worried sick about this situation... she is one of six daughters of a family of 10 children, and the only one to have had breast cancer (although one sister had thyroid cancer and her mother was dx'd with kidney cancer when she was in her late 80s). Mom never smoked or had any other typical cancerous lifestyle indicators other than the fact that when she was 14 years old my grandma got her a job at a dry cleaning store. This was in the days before One Hour Martinizing, and Mom spent the next two years handling and inhaling all sorts of chemicals and solvents.
Even though her doctor pretty much said he though the nodule was nothing to worry about, his subsequent comment about if it *was* something, he didn't know what he would do if he was in her position, at her age, etc., worries me. I'm just scared to death that my Mom is now in the early stages of lung cancer. I'm wondering if the Google articles/statistics about lung nodules being malignant 50% of the time when the patient is over 50 years old is over-stated, if there are any statistics about the frequency of benign lung nodules, and if...worst case scenario...this nodule is something more serious, what should a patient of Mom's age do? Major surgery (like removing a lung) seems sketchy to me, as does chemotherapy... but, on the other hand, most of her older siblings are still alive, so it is conceivable that despite her age, she still has another 12 years or so ahead of her.
What are the chances of a lung nodule being benign in a patient in her late 70s who has had two malignant breast tumors? In a patient who has exhibited no symptoms whatsoever breathing-wise, if the nodule *is* malignant, what is the projected lifespan of a patient who doesn't undergo major therapy (such as surgery or chemo)? What is the prognosis if such a nodule is malignant and the patient doesn't undergo any treatment?