Lung cancer is a cancer that starts in the lungs and spreads throughout the body. Your lungs are two spongy organs in your chest that take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide when you breathe in and out.
It is the most common cancer that kills people around the world.
It is most common in smokers, although it can also strike persons who have never smoked. The amount of time and number of cigarettes you smoke raises your risk of cancer. You can dramatically reduce your risks of developing lung cancer if you quit smoking, even if you’ve been smoking for a long time.
Although most lung cancers do not show symptoms until they have spread, some persons with early lung cancer do. If you see a doctor as soon as you discover symptoms, your cancer may be diagnosed earlier, when treatment is more likely to be successful.
The majority of these symptoms are caused by something other than lung cancer. Still, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor straight away to determine the source and, if necessary, treat it.
Lung Cancer Signs & Symptoms
In the early stages of lung cancer, there are usually no signs or symptoms. It’s signs and symptoms usually appear when the disease has progressed.
Lung cancer can cause the following signs and symptoms:
1. Cough that won’t go away or is becoming worse
2. Coughing up blood or sputum that is rust-colored (spit or phlegm)
3. Deep breathing, coughing, or laughing might cause chest pain.
5. Shortness of breath
7. Loss of appetite
8. Losing weight without trying
9. Always feel tired or weak
10. Infections that don’t go away or keep coming back such as bronchitis and pneumonia
If lung cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it might lead to the following complications:
1. Bone pain (like pain in the back or hips)
2. Changes in the nervous system (such as headaches, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg, dizziness, balance issues, or seizures) caused by cancer spread to the brain.
3. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by cancer spreading to the liver.
4. Lymph nodes (collection of immune system cells) in the neck or above the collarbone swell.
Lung cancer also cause some type of syndrome
Pancoast tumours are cancers that arise in the upper section of the lungs. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is more common than small cell lung cancer in these malignancies (SCLC).
Pancoast tumors can impact particular nerves in the eye and portion of the face, resulting in Horner syndrome, which includes the following symptoms:
1. One upper eyelid may droop or become weak.
2. In the same eye, a smaller pupil (dark region in the center)
3. On the same side of the face, there is little to no sweating.
Pancoast tumors can also sometimes cause severe shoulder pain
Superior vena cava syndrome
The superior vena cava (SVC) is a big vein that transports blood down to the heart from the head and arms. It runs adjacent to the lymph nodes in the chest and the upper half of the right lung. Tumors in this location can put pressure on the SVC, causing blood to pool in the veins. Swelling of the face, neck, arms, and upper chest might occur as a result of this (sometimes with a bluish-red skin color). If it affects the brain, it can also induce headaches, dizziness, and a shift in awareness. While SVC syndrome can develop over time, it can also become life-threatening in some situations and requires immediate treatment.
Even if the disease has not progressed to other areas, some lung cancers produce hormone-like chemicals that reach the bloodstream and create difficulties in distant tissues and organs. These conditions are known as paraneoplastic syndromes. These disorders can sometimes be the first signs of cancer. Because the symptoms impact other organs, it’s possible that a condition other than lung cancer is at blame.
Paraneoplastic syndromes can occur in any type of lung cancer, but they are more common in SCLC. The following are some of the most prevalent syndromes include:
1. SIADH (syndrome of inappropriate anti-diuretic hormone)
The cancer cells produce ADH, a hormone that causes the kidneys to retain water in this state. Salt levels in the blood are reduced as a result of this. Fatigue, loss of appetite, muscle weakness or cramping, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, and confusion are all symptoms of SIADH. Severe cases may result in seizures and coma if not treated.
2. Cushing syndrome
The cancer cells produce ACTH, a hormone that induces the adrenal glands to produce cortisol in this situation. Weight gain, easy bruising, lethargy, tiredness, and fluid retention are all possible symptoms. Cushing syndrome can lead to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and possibly diabetes.
3. Nervous system problems
SCLC can cause the body’s immune system to target sections of the neurological system, causing complications. Lambert-Eaton syndrome is an example of a muscular disorder. Muscles around the hips become weak with this syndrome. One of the first indicators could be difficulty rising from a seated position. Muscles around the shoulder may grow weak over time. Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration is a less common disease that can include loss of balance and unsteadiness in arm and leg movement, as well as difficulty speaking or swallowing. Other nervous system disorders, such as muscle weakness, sensory alterations, vision impairments, or even behavioral changes, can be caused by SCLC.
It is a condition characterized by high calcium levels in the blood, which can result in frequent urination, thirst, constipation, nausea, vomiting, stomach discomfort, weakness, exhaustion, dizziness, and confusion.
Again, something other than lung cancer is more likely to be the origin of many of these symptoms. Still, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor straight away to determine the source and, if necessary, treat it.
Causes of lung cancer
The majority of lung cancers are caused by smoking, which affects both smokers and those who are exposed to respirable. It can also strike persons who have never smoked and have never been exposed to secondhand smoke for an extended period of time. There may be no obvious cause of lung cancer in some cases.
How smoking causes lung cancer
According to doctors, smoking promotes cancer by harming the cells that lining the lungs. When you inhale cigarette smoke, which is high in carcinogens, alterations in lung tissue occur practically instantly.
Your body may be able to repair the harm at first. However, the normal cells that coat your lungs become further destroyed with each exposure. The damage leads cells to behave abnormally over time, and cancer may develop as a result.
Lung Cancer Types
On the basis of the appearance of lung cancer cells under the microscope, doctors divide lung cancer into two major categories. Whenever, Your doctor will determine your treatment options based on the type of lung cancer you have.
Lung cancer can be divided into two categories:
1. Small cell lung cancer.
Small cell lung cancer is less frequent than non-small cell lung cancer and occurs virtually exclusively in heavy smokers.
2. Non-small cell lung cancer
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is a catch-all name for a variety of lung cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are examples of non-small cell lung malignancies.
Lung cancer can be caused by a number of reasons. Some risk factors can be managed, such as quitting smoking. Other factors, such as your family history are uncontrollable.
Risk factors for lung cancer include:
The quantity of cigarettes you smoke per day and the number of years you’ve smoked raise your chance of lung cancer. Quitting smoking at any age reduces your chances of acquiring lung cancer greatly.
2. Exposure to secondhand smoke
Even if you don’t smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases if you’re exposed to secondhand smoke.
3. Previous radiation therapy
You may be at a higher risk of developing lung cancer if you have had chest radiation therapy for another type of cancer.
4. Exposure to radon gas
The natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water produces radon, which eventually finds its way into the air you breathe. Radon can build up to dangerous levels in any structure, including homes.
5. Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens
Workplace exposure to asbestos and other cancer-causing compounds, such as arsenic, chromium, and nickel, can raise your risk of lung cancer, especially if you smoke.
6. Family history of lung cancer
People with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease
When to see a doctor
If you have any persistent signs or symptoms that concern you, schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Make an appointment with your doctor if you have been unable to quit smoking. Counselling, drugs, and nicotine replacement products are among options that your doctor can provide to help you quit smoking.
Prevention of lung cancer
Lung cancer cannot be completely avoided, although it can be reduced if you:
1. Don’t smoke
Don’t start smoking if you’ve never smoked before. However, Talk to your children about the dangers of smoking so they can learn how to prevent this main cause of lung cancer. Start talking to your kids about the dangers of smoking when they’re young so they will know how to handle peer pressure.
2. Stop smoking
Now is the time to quit smoking. Even if you’ve smoked for years, quitting reduces your chance of cancer. Consult your doctor about techniques and quit-smoking aids that can assist you in quitting smoking. Nicotine replacement products, medicines, and support groups are all options.
3. Avoid secondhand smoke
If you live or work with someone who smokes, encourage them to quit. Request that he or she smoke outside at the very least. Avoid places where people smoke, such as bars and restaurants, and look for places that are smoke-free.
4. Test your home for radon
Check your home’s radon levels, especially if you reside in a region where radon is an issue. Radon levels above a certain threshold can be reduced to make your house safer. Contact your local department of public health or a local branch of the American Lung Association for radon testing information.
5. Avoid carcinogens at work
Protect yourself from harmful chemicals at work by taking safeguards. Observe your employer’s safety precautions. If you’re provided a face mask for protection, for example, always put it on. Moreover, Inquire with your doctor about further steps you can take to safeguard yourself at work. If you smoke, your chance of lung damage from occupational toxins increases.
6. Eat a diet full of fruits and vegetables
Choose a nutritious diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin and nutrition supplies from food are the greatest. Large amounts of vitamins in pill form should be avoided because they can be dangerous. For example, to minimise the incidence of lung cancer among heavy smokers, researchers gave them beta carotene pills. The supplements actually raised the risk of cancer in smokers, according to the findings.
7. Exercise most days of the week
Start slowly if you haven’t been exercising consistently. Make an effort to exercise on most days of the week.
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