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Lung Cancer

Bad Cough, Mucous, and Blood

04/09/2010

Question:

19 months ago I had surgery to remove a section of my right lung due to non small cell lung cancer. In February I started to get a bad cough and congestion in my chest. I went to my doctor he said I had bronchitis after taking an x-ray, and he put me on five days meds. It got better, but now the cough and mucous blood streaks are back. Could my cancer have come back? They removed that section of lung in its early stage.

Answer:

Before you had the surgery, you probably got a PET scan and during the surgery your surgeons most likely had checked for any local spread of cancer before they removed a section of your right lung. However, it is still possible to have a recurrence. Usually periodic surveillance CT scans are scheduled. Not sure when your last CT was.

Coughing up small amount of streaks of blood could be from bronchitis, however, a spread of cancer in the lung can sometime present similarly as well. Although it is usually more than streaks of blood.

I would recommend you to contact your cancer doctor (oncologist or surgeon) or pulmonologist and get a CT scan (unless it is done recently) to rule out the possibility of any new spread. Depending on the CT results or if you continue to bleed you may need a bronchoscopy as well.

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Response by:

Shaheen  Islam, MD, MPH Shaheen Islam, MD, MPH
Clinical Associate Professor
Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep
Hematology
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University