My 84 year old father-in-law has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Next week he is scheduled to have an operation to remove the lesion and an upper lobe of one of his lungs. This seems like a very hard surgery for anyone, especially someone in his 80's. I am worried about him be able to breathe without oxygen after he recovers and how much pain he will be in (they have told him they will not need to break a rib to do the surgery) post-surgery. The doctors seem very nonchalant and confident that he will be fine. Are my worries founded?
The decision to remove a part of the lung is indeed not to be taken lightly. While your doctors seem nonchalant, there are a number of tests that are conducted to ensure that the lung reserve would be optimal so that the person undergoing the surgery is not left breathless.
The age factor is not clearly a contraindication to withhold surgery. Such candidates actually do better, than younger men with many co-morbidities such as diabetes and hypertension. If the doctors felt that the surgery was not an option, there is always definitive radiation for these cases.
The experience with surgery however, is greater than for radiation, so whenever possible, this seems to be the first choice. Few lung cancers have good chances for cure, and these cases are the ones that are operable.
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