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Symptoms that might suggest you have lung cancer Symptoms that might suggest you have lung cancer

Symptoms that might suggest you have lung cancer


Surya Hospital

January 31, 2024 |
9 Min Read | 498

Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer worldwide and nearly 85 per cent of the cases are linked to smoking. In most cases, the patients do not initially experience any noteworthy symptoms as these manifest quite late, resulting in late diagnosis. Being diagnosed with a malignancy like lung cancer is not easy, however, we need to understand the importance of early diagnosis and management. Treating the cancer when it is still localized makes it possible to address it more efficiently and also improves the outcomes. However, this is possible only if you know the signs and symptoms that need medical attention. Reading this blog will help you understand all about lung cancer and the symptoms that you need to look out for. 

What is Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a type of malignancy that develops when cells in any part of the lungs start to multiply in an uncontrolled manner. It is a potentially serious condition that keeps on progressing and has been associated with various debilitating complications. It is slightly more common in males as compared to females and the risks are elevated in those with regular exposure to cigarette smoke. In the year 2020 alone, around 2.2 million new cases of lung cancer were reported. 

What Causes Lung Cancer?

Lung cancer is a result of abnormal mutations in the DNA of the cells found within the lungs. As it is this DNA that is responsible for regulating cell growth and multiplication, the mutations can disrupt this crucial function and cause the cells to grow haphazardly.

In nearly 7 out of 10 cases, these mutations are brought about by smoking. Now, there are certain factors that are used to determine one’s risks of developing lung cancer based on smoking habits. For instance, when you started smoking, how long you have been smoking, how many cigarettes you smoke in a day and so on. The risks are also high for secondhand smokers. These are people who do not smoke themselves but are exposed to it because of a family member. 

It is crucial to understand that although smoking is a major risk factor, it is not the only one and there are other factors that are to be taken into account as well. These include:

  • Having a family history of lung cancer, as the faulty genes can be passed down from one generation to another 
  • Being exposed to industrial chemicals and toxins at the workplace
  • Being exposed to strong radiation during treatment or while undergoing certain scans
  • Exposure to harmful and toxic air pollutants 
  • Exposure to certain carcinogens like asbestos

Symptoms You Need to Look Out For

One may have lung cancer without even knowing it as the symptoms, in most cases, do not show up initially. If you fall in the high-risk category, you will be recommended to go for regular screening to catch the early traces, even before the symptoms are evident. Here are some common signs and symptoms associated with lung cancer that you should be aware of:

  • Unusual chest pain or discomfort 
  • Persistent cough that aggravates with time
  • Breathing difficulty and wheezing 
  • Traces of blood in sputum 
  • A sudden loss of appetite 
  • Unintended loss of weight
  • Problems with swallowing 
  • Swollen face, neck and chest
  • Coughing up blood
  • Pain in the shoulder and bones 
  • Persistent headaches

Having any of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have lung cancer and the diagnosis can be made only after proper medical evaluation. Anyhow, should not be taken lightly and if you or anyone you know has been experiencing these, it is advisable to seek proper medical help. 

Why Is It Important to Seek Medical Help?

Cancer is a progressive disease which means that the longer you wait, the more time it gets to progress. Without proper medical intervention and treatment, the condition can progress leading to various complications, including metastasis. This means that the cancer cells break free from the tumour and spread to other areas of the body by entering the bloodstream, resulting in the development of metastatic cancer.

Can Lung Cancer be Prevented?

There is no known way of preventing cancer, however as the major risk factors are known, we can take necessary measures to lower our chances of developing the same. 

  • The first and the most crucial thing that you need to do is quit smoking. No matter how long you have been doing it, you need to give up the habit not only for your sake but also for the sake of your loved ones, as you are exposing them to the smoke as well. 
  • Educate your children about the harmful impact of smoking to make sure that they stay away from the practice. It is very important to teach such things from an early age as many children tend to develop the habit when they are only in Middle School. 
  • If you have a family member who is a chain smoker, talk to them and motivate them to give up the habit. Sometimes, it can be difficult for people and a little push can help them.
  • Opt for radon testing. Overexposure to the gas can elevate the risks of developing lung cancer. Getting your home tested for the same can help you take necessary measures and lower the risks. 
  • Take proper precautions at work, especially if you are working in an environment where you are exposed to chemicals on a regular basis, such as factories or industries. 
  • Focus on eating healthy by adding more & more fruits and veggies to your diet. Maintaining a proper balance of nutrients can help to boost your immunity and lower your dependence on artificial supplements. 

How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms associated with lung cancer, doctors will follow a series of steps to properly analyze you and make the diagnosis based on a thorough assessment. 

You will be asked about the symptoms that you are experiencing and a physical examination will be conducted. Doctors may go through your medical records and ask about your medical history. Based on this initial analysis doctors may recommend tests to precisely make the diagnosis. You may need the following:

  • Blood analysis to assess the functioning of different organs of your body
  • Imaging test slide CT scans and PET scans for detecting any abnormal lesions and masses in the lungs. 
  • Biopsy, which is performed on a tissue sample collected from the lungs, to look for traces of cancer. 

Treatments for Lung Cancer

There are several treatment options available for managing lung cancer and these vary depending on various factors that include the type of cancer, its stage, severity and how far it has spread. Doctors may use a combination of treatments, based on an individual approach. Common treatment modalities include:

  • Surgery: It is the most preferred treatment option in cases when the cancer has not spread beyond the liver. The aim of the surgery is to remove the cancerous mass along with the affected surrounding tissue. Common surgical procedures include wedge resection, segmental resection, lobectomy and pneumonectomy. 
  • Radiation therapy: The treatment uses focused beams of radiation to target the cancerous areas and destroy the malignant cells. The radiation may be given externally using a machine or internally, using radioactive materials. 
  • Chemotherapy: The treatment involves the use of a combination of drugs to destroy the cancerous cells that have spread over a vast area. It may be given before surgery, to reduce tumour size, after surgery to destroy cancerous cells that have been left behind and as a primary treatment, to manage symptoms and slow down progression. 
  • Immunotherapy: The treatment works by boosting your immune system, making it strong enough to fight cancer. The treatment is recommended for patients with locally advanced and metastasized cancer.
  • Targeted drug therapy: As the name suggests, the treatment works by targeting abnormalities that are responsible for uncontrolled cell multiplication. 

If you want to know more about lung cancer, consult the experts from the best women hospital in Mumbai, today. 

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