I am a registered nurse so all my friends tend to call me and ask medical advice. My friend/work partner is a 38 year old female with a history of smoking and asthma. For the past month, she has been coughing/hacking and complaining of difficulty breathing. She has been to the MD several times and put on abx, prednisone and breathing treatment with very little change. Today she went for a chest x-ray and was called rather quickly by her pcp and told there is a large mass on her right lung and she has to go for a CT scan. What could this be other than lung cancer?
I suspect you are in the USA, or some other country that over-medicates problems right at the start.
The first thing your friend's MD should have done - after noting the *exact* symptoms and being very precise in their questions about whether there was any phlegm and its COLOUR - is a physical exam, then Lung Function Tests - very specifically Spirometry tests for the percentage of oxygen in Forced Exhalation Volume.
The next step would have been an IMMEDIATE Chest XRay and, if at all abnormal - as this one was - an urgent appointment with a Chest Pysician with a contrast CT-Scan scheduled (if possible) before the appointment.
Because of your friends smoking history and Asthma it is quite possibly the case she has early to moderate COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) - anti-biotics for that are a total waste of time.
Apart from a BronchoDilator Preventer pump (to help *if* she has real breathing difficulties) any other medication should most definitely have WAITED until the appointment with the Chest Physician (Pulmonologist).
It may well be that she merely has some slight enlargement of the chest lymph nodes - which when pressing on the lungs causes the symptoms she describes - and that may be caused by a passing Viral infection (which, again, antibiotics are USELESS against).
Either way, the CT Scan and Lung Function Tests will say whether she has COPD/Empysema, and she needs to STOP SMOKING NOW.
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