Cough after lobectomy

Hi. I my RUL removed on July 25th. Pretty soon after surgery I developed a chronic cough that I did not have before surgery. For some reason I do not have it when I am lying down. Has anyone else developed a cough after a lobectomy and if so, how long did it last? I guess my next stop will be a trip to the pulmonologist.

thanks, Debra

Report post

37 replies. Join the discussion

I had the whole lung removed. I had almost a constant need to clear my throat for months . I coughed some and it was very hollow sounding. I didn't cough up anything but as I said - I cleared my throat all the time. The doctors told me that was totally normal as there is a bunch of secretions generated by the surgery that need to clear.

Report post

i had my right lung removed November 8th last year - still coughing...lol

Report post

thank you. If coughing were exercise I would have lost 20 pounds by now. If only. :)

Report post

thank you. At least I don't cough when lying down. Perhaps I need to swap out my chair at work for a bed.

Debra

Report post

lol - whatever works - i was scared to death at first - and the cold weather makes it worse - but it's normal - that's what they tell me - my chest still hurts sometimes and I cough like a fog horn - but I'm dealing with it.....yeah- would be better than weight training.... -

Report post

thanks for askin this question. i just had a lobectomy and was having the same problem. was scared to death of the answer.

so glad everyone says its normal.

god bless ya all!

Report post

I coughed so much for the first few months - my doctor said it was the body's normal way of expanding the lobe that was left into the new area left vacant from removal of the other lobe. Each time I went for a check-up, the lobe was more expanded and the cough was a little better.

But I remember being so worried at the time that (1) I would never get rid of the cough and (2) it was from cancer. I did eventually get rid of the cough - now I only cough when I first hit cold weather or after I run or exercise hard. But it was really bad for the first few months after the lobectomy. I also had several episode of yawning that I was afraid would never go away but that did too!

Report post

Dear SB:

Thank you for your response. When I asked my thoracic surgeon about the cough, he told me he had not seen this before in his patients. I found that hard to believe as he works at a major cancer center and has been doing lobectomies for years.

Just this week the cough has FINALLY begun to get a little better. I am glad I did not have to worry about yawning.

I am glad you are doing so well after your surgery. I was diagnosed as Stage 1B as the tumor was 3.33 cm. The pulmonologists kept telling me I had an infection and it took 6 months before they sent me for a surgical biopsy. At the time I thought only people that smoked got lung cancer and I also thought I was too young at 52. Boy have I learned a lot.

Debra

Report post

I know how you feel about being misdiagnosed. I was misdiagnosed for a very long time. They kept telling me my chest pain and cough were caused by GERD even though I said that it wasn't GERD. I had to demand further testing once I started to have trouble getting a deep breath.

Even when that happened though, I didn't connect the chest pain I had to the lung or lung cancer - I thought there was something wrong with my heart. It just never dawned on me or anyone that I would get lung cancer. Healthy, active young (47 at least to me was young....) mother, never smoker. I was given antibiotics too - very strong ones that did nothing to make the tumor go away.

Well glad to know you were able to have surgery - that is a good thing, although you are probably going through a lot of after effects now - they will get better.

Report post

Hi Deb.
I was reading about a discussion that I believe was your experience back when you have your right lung removed? Was that you? Are you still coughing? Did you have a partial or the entire? I am scheduled for surgery after chemo at Sloan Kettering in March or so, of the tumor is shrunk. I'm a newie, only one chemo two weeks ago. My hair is hand, but no nausea today, I'm wishing you a good week! Gayle

Report post

Hi Maisymar:

I had my right upper lobe removed. My tumor was 2.33 cm (about the size of a quarter I think). I did cough for 4 months straight but now my cough is pretty much gone. I have run into a few people that have had lobectomies and some had the cough and some don't. What surgery are you having done? I had surgery the old fashioned way with the large incision around my shoulder blade and not VATS which you heal from much faster. My best advice is to walk walk walk before surgery so that your lungs are in the best shape possible for the surgery.

When you get closer to surgery and it is similar to mine I can give you some tips.

Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas.

Debra

Report post

Hi Debra, thanks for responding. I won't know exactly what surgery )1 or 2 lobes) until we see how the tumor + node respond to chemo. I am lifting 5 lb weightys 30 reps a day to try to keep those lungs expanding. The walking is good, but it's pretty cold here right now, and of course with chemo, I worry about catching a cold. Thanks for the advice and the holiday greetings! Gayle

Report post

Hi Gayle:

When you live in California you tend to forget it is cold in other parts of the country. My daughter goes to school in Montreal and after her first winter there (which lasts about 6 months) she called and asked why we let her go to school in such a cold climate.

Sounds like you are doing exactly the right thing with the weights.

Debra

Report post

Oh my goodness! This question caught my eye when i was browsing the internet , and is the reason why i signed on to this site. I have recently had a lobectomy of my lower left lobe at age 27, it had a 4.3 mm tumor growing in there! Nov 17th was the durgery date, and i am slowly recovering. I find stairs and malls to be the hardest. I am always out of breath- and the cough! Oh its like i have been swimming in a pool for hours and now the chlorene has effected my lungs with that horrible itchy feeling. It is constant. My Dr also said it shouldnt happen like that, so im glad to hear its normal with all of you. I was wondering if it would ever go away. And the gunk! there is gunk that comes up everyonce in a while. Sorry, gross, but i wanted to know if anyone else had this problem and when does it go away!

Report post

Wow. 27 seems so young to have had a lobectomy. I did not ever cough up any gunk. However I did cough for 4 months and that made healing pretty painful and slow. One day the cough just went away. It never tapered off, it just disappeared. The only time I did not cough was when I was laying down so at least I could sleep at night. I am now almost 6 months out and am doing quite well so there is light at the end of the tunnel tho I did not feel that way the first couple of months. I did not have VATS surgery, I had the full blown one.

I wish you well and a speedy recovery.

Debra

Report post

Wow- thank you, yes i will let this cough go a little more, it is sort of diminishing. Everyday is a bit better. Yes, i had the big surgery too, they said they needed to go in though my back and under my shoulder blade in order to determine how much lung to take. (They didnt know if they could remove a piece, a lobe, or the whole thing due to where to tumor was.) So i have that nice big curved scar too- hey, its a battle wound! Thanks for getting back to me, This really puts me at ease knowing there are more out there!!

Report post

Thanks all. I find myself visiting this thread because I have the same cough 12 weeks after VATS lobectomy. It is exactly as so many have described; dry cough, not much coughed up. itchy throat, and (usually) no symptom when laying down. Docs have blamed it on asthma and/or post nasal drip, but nothing helps. I didn't have asthma before the surgery and no cough until the one that lead to the discovery of my carcinoid tumor in October.

Running seems to help but none of the meds I have tried so far seem to.

Tom

Report post

Dear Debber,
Were you offered chemo after your surgery? Did you take it? I was diagnosed with stage 1B nsclc (3.21 cm) and had my lower right lobe removed. They said they think they got it all, but referred me to an oncologist. He offered me chemo, my choice to make. If I was 1A, they would not have offered chemo to me. Any thoughts on this.

Report post

Hi Tom:

My cough lasted 5 months. I did not have VATS so it was pretty painful to cough for that long and it slowed down the healing process too. My docs gave me all kinds of meds but nothing worked. I even saw an ear, nose and throat doctor. At least I did not cough when laying down so I could get some relief. One day the cough just went away. It did not taper off, it just disappeared. I have talked to other people who developed a cough after surgery and some people had it longer than I did and some had it shorter. Really no rhyme or reason. So hopefully one day your cough should just disappear too. Hope you have a speedy recovery.

Debra

Report post

Hi George:

I was staged 1B adenocarcinoma with BAC features. Tumor was about the same size as yours and had started to grow into my pleura. I had my right upper lobe removed. I was offered chemo but the docs said there is not enough conclusive evidence to support that it actually would benefit me. I did a search of the literature available and after agonizing over the decision I decided not to have chemo. The oncologist told me it was her opinion that the side effects would be much worse than the possible benefits. I am 53 and she said I have a 30-40% chance of this recurring. I decided to just get scanned twice and year (and x-rays twice a year) and hope for the best. If this recurs I may have to have chemo and I want to keep that weapon in my arsenal in case I do need it. I know everyone has different views on whether to have chemo or not. If I was sure it would have made a difference I would have jumped at it. I went back to work full time 7 weeks after surgery and have been doing fine ever since. I guess you just have to make a decision based on what you think is right for you. This might help:http://lungevity.org/l_community/viewtopic.php?p=382421&sid=371af4aaad64f37 282b544baf2614ecb. Also, they tested 15 lymph nodes and the cancer had not spread to any of them. I am praying for a good outcome for you.
Debra

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Photo of Dave Grant

The Lung Cancer Survivors Support Community has provided support for patients, caregivers, families and friends since 2006. We welcome over 600 new members every month in the fight against lung cancer.

ALK mutations and lung cancer

Join the discussion about ALK mutations and lung cancer

Things you can do

Discussion topics

Community leaders