Why Are Some Lung Cancer Patients Bothered by a Cough?

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Topics include: Understanding

In many programs, the question that is commonly asked is, why does this happen to me and not others? The short answer is that all patients are different, and their bodies react to treatment differently. In this program, a concerned patient asks the panel why he has a fluid chronic cough. Dr. David Carbone and physician assistant Sam Vafadar discuss why the body reacts in a cough and what is going on systemically to activate a cough. They explain how the cough can be an indication of pollen season, upper respiratory infection or even a common cold. Tune in to find out more.

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Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

John:

My name is John Bowman.  And when I came here, I thought that everybody would be coughing in the room because of lung cancer, and so anyway, I walk in. 

I’ve been through the chemo and radiation for six weeks, and then they waited a while, and then it started growing back. But anyway, I started spitting up a white fluid from pretty much when I started getting the first chemo and stuff.  And I asked the people around me how come I’m the only one that spits up stuff?  Am I the only one?  It’s kind of like is that coming from my tumor?

Andrew Schorr:                  

And you’ve had radiation and chemo?

John:     

Yeah. I had radiation and chemo for six weeks. And then they waited a while. And then it started growing back 

Dr. Carbone:       

Cancers can block parts of your lung, which cause things to accumulate.

John:     

And I walk a half a mile or a mile a day, I try to if I can.  And they put me on docetaxel (Taxotere).

And there’s no rhyme or reason to it.  All of a sudden, you start coughing out of the blue, and it happens at night. So I was just surprised when I came in here, all of these people weren’t coughing.

Dr. Carbone:       

Lung cancer patients can look completely normal.

Andrew Schorr:                  

So let’s talk to Sam for just a second. He comes in, and he said I’m coughing up this stuff. So that’s the kind of thing to communicate, right?

Sam Vafadar:      

Right, absolutely. So thank you for communicating that. So I would evaluate you in the clinic. And it’s what Dr. Carbone said, too.  It kind of depends also where the tumor is anatomically that can cause these particular types of symptoms.  There could be an inflammatory issue around the tumor depending on what type of treatment you’re getting. And quite honestly, you can still get sick just like anybody else, even though you have lung cancer.                   

Dr. Carbone:       

You could have pneumonia.

Sam Vafadar:      

It can be any kind of issue, just an upper respiratory infection. It could be pollen season, etc. 

Dr. Carbone:        

Everybody is different.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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Page last updated on July 27, 2015