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Date of last update: 10/21/2017.

Forum Name: Lung Cancer

Question: Can lung cancer return after 23 years?

 joanrog - Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:39 pm

I was a smoker and at the age of 42 in 1986, I was diagnosed with lung cancer, type unknown. Successful surgery, removal of upper lobe of right lung, no radiation or chemo necessary. Have had chest x-rays and CT scans every year for 23 years. Last week, CT showed small irregular opacity, base of right lung. Having a PET scan tomorrow. Radiology report vague, but suggestive. I DO NOT BELIEVE lung cancer has returned after this length of time. Have no symptoms. In 1986 had chronic bronchitis, clubbing, severe arthritis, fleck of blood in mucus. Need opinion. Thank you.
 Dr. Tamer Fouad - Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:07 am

User avatar Hello,
I am sorry to hear about the opacity. I wish you luck and hopefully everything will be alright.

I doubt that this is recurrence, 23 years being a bit of a stretch. However, assuming for the sake of discussion that this is a malignant opacity it would probably be a new lesion (2nd primary) rather than a recurrence. Please note that depending on your smoking history, smokers remain at risk even after abstinence. They are twice at risk than never smokers after 15 years of abstinence.

Please keep us updated. Good luck with the PET scan.
 joanrog - Tue Jan 20, 2009 8:19 am

The PET scan revealed NO CANCER! No hypermetabolic lung mass or lypphadenopathy. Right base pulmonary opacity appears to have decreased, suggesting improvement in an inflammatory process. I developed a severe cold the day of the CT scan and I'm guessing that I already had pneumonia. I'm grateful to an overly cautious radiologist and my physician for reacting so quickly. The oncologist confirmed your response which was so greatly appreciated. Another CT will be performed in 3 months. Thank you again. I am blessed!

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