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Plural Effusion on left lung & 2 year survivor of Breast Cancer

By Anonymous July 9, 2011 - 11:07am
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On our way home from Northern MN my daughter & I were involved in a car accident, where we were rear ended.
After getting home we started in with sore neck, shoulder, and back issues so we went to our local emergency room to be checked out.
At the emergency room they did an x-ray of my chest area. The doctor then ordered a CT scan of my chest area. He then said, "I may be admitting you. You have fluid build up on your left lung. Have you recently had Pneumonia? Have you had pain in the chest area? Have you been short of breath?" I said, "I have not had Pneumonia and have not had pain in chest area but a dull ache when laying on my stomach. But I have also had issues with Gastritis, GERD ect so my family doctor has been treating me for these things." I was admitted from July 5th-July 7th to the hospital.

At the hospital they did a procedure called, "Thoracentesis." The best way I can describe this is: They put a needle between ribs, to draw fluid out from the lungs. After this procedure was done the doctor said to me: "I am going to run cultures on this fluid. This could be Cancer in a lung with you being a Breast Cancer Survivor. The cultures won't be back until Tuesday of next week sometime.
I am also a past smoker. I also have COPD which has been managed through inhalers such as Spiriva and Albuterol, when I have a flare up.
When the Radiologist finished the Thoracentesis he said, "I don't see blood in the fluid. I did get about 750 ML of dark amber-colored effusion removed."
I am scared and this waiting on test results is hard. Is 750 ML of dark-ambered colored effusion a sign of Cancer? Is 750 ML a lot of fluid? Can COPD be a cause of Plural Effusion? I don't know the answers to any of these questions. Has anyone on this board had any experience with a situation like this?
I sure appreciate this board and all the amazing people on here.

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Pleural effusion's risk factors include a history of breast cancer or injury, and you can read more about the different types and causes at: Pleural Effusion Causes. Lung disease may also be a factor in pleural effusion (most notably pneumonia, but presumably COPD would be a factor as well). This is an excellent question to verify with your doctor.

The amount and color (and other physical characteristics) of your test sample would need to be discussed with your doctor, as there are too many variables for anyone to speculate what this small sample may indicate.

Here is a helpful article written by an EmpowHER Writer that will help you discuss this condition with your doctor: Pleural Effusion: Five Questions to Ask Your Doctor and Pleural Effusion: Four more questions to ask your doctor.

Please let us know what your test results are Tuesday, and we will be hoping for the best.

July 10, 2011 - 7:36pm
EmpowHER Guest

Hi Anonymous,
Thank you for your question and welcome to Empowher. I hope I can help you although waiting for the test results is the best way to know for sure if you have cancer. A pleural effusion is an excess build up of fluid in your pleura. To understand, we all have fluid there but when there is excess, this causes pain when you try to breathe since your lungs cannot take in all the air such as COPD. COPD and breast cancer are certainly reasons why you may have the pleural effusion. Here is some great information that may help you better understand http://www.medicinenet.com/pleural_effusion/article.htm.
Here is another site that may be helpful also http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/807375-overview. Unfortunately, waiting for the test results is the only way to be certain if you have cancer. I hope this helps a little but please keep us updated on your results.

July 10, 2011 - 9:42am
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