After reviewing the results of Rob’s diagnostic images – X-ray and CT scan – and his sputum cytology and lung biopsy, you are able to confirm that Rob has lung cancer, specifically non-small squamous cell lung cancer, stage II. Rob is frightened and rightly so – lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death not only in the United States, but also in the world. It accounts for more lives lost than breast, prostate, colon and rectal cancer combined, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers.
The physician informs Rob that his lung cancer is treatable, but it will be a long road to remission. The first step will be to immediately perform surgery and remove the mass via a wedge resection, also called a segmentectomy. During this procedure the surgeon will remove a small wedge-shaped piece of lung that contains the lung cancer and a margin of healthy tissue around the cancer. With this type of procedure, there is a strong possibility of the cancer returning. To combat this Rob will face months of adjuvant chemotherapy to target any remaining cancer cells and help prevent the cancer from spreading. As a result of these procedures, Rob will likely experience breathlessness, fatigue, lightheadedness, cognitive changes and/or pain.
Rob will need to make major lifestyle changes including losing his main coping mechanism – smoking. This, coupled with a cancer diagnosis, can be overwhelming and may leave Rob with a sense of loss. It is very common to experience feelings of hopelessness and sadness after a cancer diagnosis, but there are resources to help with these feelings.