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Lung Cancer: Watch Out For These Warning Signs

  • Feb 15
  • Oncology

Lung Cancer is defined as the uncontrollable growth of malignant cells in the lungs, affecting the core functioning of the respiratory organs and causing an eventual fatality, if not treated on time. Lung cancer is the second leading cause among cancer-related fatalities, only after breast cancer, worldwide annually.

Lung cancer, though mostly diagnosed in men, can affect both genders at any age. Smokers are at high risk of lung cancer while individuals toiling in work conditions exposed to carcinogenic gases like radon, asbestos are equally prone to it. Other triggers behind life-threatening conditions include family history of cancer, genetic mutations.

What Are The Types of Lung Cancer?

There are two main types of lung cancer:

  • Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)
  • Non – Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC)

Though not very prevalent, Carcinoid, another lesser-known type of cancer can affect few patients

Most lung cancers are Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer, and they are further classified into:

  • Adenocarcinoma
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Large Cell or Undifferentiated Carcinoma

What Are The Common Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer may not appear with any symptoms at the initial stages but if you notice any of the following signs, consult the doctor immediately.

Recurrent Cough:  If you have been suffering from a persistent cough that is not going away despite regular use of medication and precautions, it’s time to get tested for lung cancer. Sudden bouts of intense coughing is a sure-tell symptom and it can aggravate with time, especially while lying down. Other major warning signs are traces of blood in the sputum, difficulty swallowing food and fluids.

Breathing Difficulties: Difficulty in breathing is one of the primary symptoms often noticed in the patients suffering from lung cancer. It is caused due to cancer cells blocking the airways thus triggering fluid accumulation, constricting the complete expansion of lungs during inhalation.

Persistent Respiratory Tract Infections: Lung cancer patients are at the high risk of contracting various pulmonary infections including bronchitis, pneumonia. Pneumonia happens when pus or fluid fills in the air sacs while bronchitis is a result of swollen bronchial tubes. Often an acute occurrence, these conditions will leave a major impact on the health of lung cancer patient worsening symptoms.

Weak Digestive Health:  Poor gut health is often associated with constipation, nausea, bouts of pain in the abdominal region, loss of appetite, high levels of calcium are commonly diagnosed in lung cancer patients. Compromised digestive health makes the patient weak, while increased thirst is a result of elevated calcium levels which in turn mounts more pressure on kidneys to function more.

Chest Pain:  Lung cancer patients often suffer from moderate to severe pain in the chest, often a result of tumour pressing against the nerves, tightening the area around the lungs. The pain aggravates during inhalation, exhalation, laughing and even while talking.

What Are The Other Major Complications Lung Cancer?

Besides these common symptoms, lung cancer can eventually lead to certain syndromes as the condition worsens.

Paraneoplastic Syndromes:  Lung cancers in certain patients can release hormone-like components into the bloodstream which affect other organs of the body. Referred to as Paraneoplastic Syndromes, Cushing Syndrome, Lambert-Eaton Syndrome this can cause water retention, decrease sodium levels, sudden weight gain, nausea and vomiting, leading to coma.

Horner Syndrome: Cancer on the upper part of the lungs are known as Pancoast tumours and are common in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCL). The complications caused due to these tumours as they progress is medically known as Horner Syndrome and it affects facial nerves, drooping of the upper eyelid and excruciating pain in the shoulders.

Superior vena Cava Sydrome: When a tumour presses against Superior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from head, arms to the heart, it triggers swelling of the face, neck, arms causing instant dizziness and even loss of consciousness. This condition needs immediate medical attention.

What Are The Available Treatment Options For Lung Cancer?

  • Early diagnosis is the key to successfully deal with lung cancer. If you are smoker, quit it!
  • Surgery forms the first line of treatment followed by chemotherapy, radiation depending on the severity of the condition.
  • Do follow lifestyle changes, take all prescribed medications and keep up with your doctor’s appointments.
  • Do not panic. Cancer care has advanced majorly in the last few years ushering new hope for cancer patients.

 

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