Tumor Size Question

My mother-in-law has several tumors in her lungs and chest that were first detected on her CT scan 16 months ago. One is now 9 cm (which is about 3-1/2 inches). Is that considered to be large?

Report post

8 replies. Join the discussion

They rate the size in increments, and the "T" is part of the TNM staging system. T1a is a tumor 2 cm or less that is not invading the visceral pleura. T1b is a tumor between 2-3 cm. T2a is a tumor between 3-5 cm, T2b is a tumor 5-7 cm. Tumors >7 cm are T3.

So your mother's is in the largest size rating. I have read many posts of peoplw with larger tumors.



Report post

When i was diagnosed in august of squamous carcinoma = nsclc my mass was 5.4. I was given a staging of 3a just because of the size of the mass. Cancer was not found any where else.So, i'm no doctor but seems big to me. Good news is that chemo shrunk mine to 1.9 x1.0...I am now scheduled for surgery jan. 13th. For me the mass had infiltrated the pulmonary veins and surgeon couldn't operate due to the size of the mass. That's why i say yes your mother in law's is big.Jane

Report post

Yes, it's big. My dad's tumor was also 9 cm and his doctors all told him it was big. Big doesn't mean not curable, though. My dad just got NED, so try not to let the size discourage you. As Chum said, there are a lot of people on here with bigger tumors who are successfully treating their cancers.

Best wishes to you,


Report post

Beach, I've read all three of your posts and you don't mention if your MIL is being treated or has been treated. Is she being seen by any doctors? These are all questions that should be answered by her doctor. Let us know what treatment she has had, if any.
Take care, Jc

Report post

Sorry I didn't give you much background on my MIL. She is 80 years old. She was first diagnosed with stage IIb NSCLC 3 years ago. She had one tumor which was about 3 cm in size. She had a lobectomy, but opted not to have chemo. On a CT scan 16 months ago, they found several new tumors had appeared in her lungs and lymph nodes, so her doctor upgraded her to stage IV. He suggested chemo, but she did not want to undergo the treatments. Her most recent CT scan done a month ago showed that all the tumors had grown, with one tumor as large as 9 cm. I'm not sure how large the others are because I haven't seen the CT scan report. Her oncologist said she is NOT a candidate for chemo or radiation. He suggested that she try Tarceva to see if it might shrink some of the tumors. Without treatment, he says she may live weeks to months. The cancer has not metastasized to any other organs at this point.

With a tumor that is 9 cm, wouldn't you think she would be experiencing some kind of symptoms or pain at this point?

Report post

There are no sensory organs in the lungs so the only symptom may be some increase in breathlessness until the cancer spreads.

I am confused and that usually means I would question your MIL's doctors.

Why isn't she a candidate for chemo or radiation? Does she have other phyisical problems? Is she fighting you. wanting to die?

Why is your mother refusing Chemo? Does she know that many people tolerate chemo extremely well, with little, even no pain? O jave friends that claim no complications from massive dosages (other than hair loss). Before being placed on trarcheva she whould have an assessment made for EGFR positive or negative.

Reading your post, I am just having too many questions. With one of the finest lung cancer facilities in the country in your back yard, why don't you have her seen by John's Hopkins Kimmel Center Comprehensive Cancer Center in Baltimore?


Report post

Highland Guy,

Wanted to answer some of your questions. My MIL lives with her daughter 2000 miles from here. We had to practically beg her to take my MIL to see a doctor. The information we have received from my SIL is very sketchy. She refuses to send us copies of the CT and PET scans. We are just going by what she tells us.

I don't know why she is not a candidate for chemo or radiation. She has moderate Alzheimers disease which seems to be progressing quickly. She is no longer able to make decisions for herself as she is incompetent. My husband is her health care advocate, but he defers the decisions to his sister since his mother lives with her.

A very close friend of the family (who used to be my MIL's doctor) told us that if it were her mother, she would NOT want her to undergo chemo treatments.

According to my SIL, she has not been tested to see if she is EGFR positive. The doctor wants her to take the Tarceva anyway. The doctor said that he's surprised she is not in a great deal of pain at this point. I think that sometimes my MIL is not capable of letting people know when she is in pain due to the Alzheimers. We have noticed that she has become increasingly hoarse and chokes frequently when she eats or drinks.

Report post


I appreciate your concern and helplessness. If you can't get information, it is difficult to say what is best, whether your MIL's doctors are doing the correct treatments or not.

I feel the same frustration as I know you are feeling. To break the impass, you might want to suggest a second opinion from a Comprehensive Cancer Center. They are normally the best qualified to treat lung cancers. On the other hand, if her alzheimers is advancing rapidply, it may be better to just ride it out and not create family dissension.

I wish you all the best for the New Year.


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