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pneumonia vs lung cancer
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pneumonia vs lung cancer

My 64 yo mother recently had an x ray and Ct scan which showed (per her) "a mass" in her lung near her heart.  The family physician began treating her for pneumonia and set her up for an appointment for a biopsy of the mass.
My mother believes she has pneumonia but I have never heard of pneumonia being described as "a mass" or doing a biopsy of pneumonia.
Her symptoms were shortness of breath, wheezing, severe coughing episodes,tachycardia and several episodes of almost fainting.
Am I correct to be concerned about this?
She was a smoker many years ago but quit when she was in her 30's.  Her mother died of lung cancer at the age of 49yo.
She lives in a small town in NC now and I am inclined to bring her up to Philadelphia to find out what is going on.
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You are right.  One does not describe pneumonia as a mass.  However, pneumonia may be the first sign of a mass, benign or malignant, as that mass blocks a bronchus. The information you've provided suggests that your mother may have both.  The CT Scan is quite good at distinguishing a mass from pneumonia.  In general, one does not biopsy pneumonia but one does biopsy any associated mass.

You are right to be very concerned.  A pulmonologist might appropriately do a bronchoscopy in NC but you would do well to bring your mother to Philadelphia for further evaluation and treatment.

4 Comments
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Avatar_f_tn
They don't biopsy pneumonia. I am a microbiology tech and they do cultures for pneumonia, not biopsies. Try to get more information out of your mom. You won't get anywhere calling her doc due to privacy regulations and HIPAA (unless your mom gives permission to have them talk to you).

Good luck.
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Avatar_n_tn
After repeated questioning, my mother says that the "mass" is in her upper right lobe (no idea of the size) and she has "fluid around her heart".
She is not going to have a biopsy at the oncologist on WEds. but she is taking her films to him for his evaluation.
She is feeling worse and worse with more coughing episodes and now she is having night sweats-- this just over the past few days.
She refuses to go to the hospital,as she doesn't want to just sit around there when she can still manage at home.
Am I right to be concerned?
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Avatar_f_tn
Yes, Fluid around the heart is NOT good. Also, night sweats are never a good sign. The fact that she's seeing an oncologist is a plus, however. Perhaps he can make headway where you cannot.

If she won't go to the doctor/hospital, make sure you have her get her affairs in order, just in case. This means durable power-of-attorney, health care power-of-attorney, and living will. If she doesn't want to go through treatment, that's her choice. However, you are the one who will be dealing with all the real-life issues in the future.

My mother-in-law had open heart surgery for a needed valve replacement in 1995. She was ready to go home and had a severe stroke, which made her unable to walk or talk. She improved somewhat but never could say more than "nee nee nee" or "Ah!" [her term for yes] after that. We were able to get her to sign a durable power-of-attorney in the nursing home (with an X and two witnesses) so that my husband could take care of her expenses. She just couldn't/wouldn't deal with the fact of her own mortality before she went into the hospital, even though the surgeon strongly suggested she have her affairs in order before the surgery, because of its inherent risks. It was very eye-opening for me, and I insisted that we have the papers drawn up for us. I also had a durable POA done for my mother so I could handle her affairs. I've only had to use it a couple of times but it is there if need be.

It's okay for people to be stubborn: it's not okay for their stubbornness to make your life miserable also. Do this today!
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