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Signs of Lung Cancer: When You Should Be Worried
The timely diagnosis of lung cancer is complicated by the fact that there are no specific complaints or signs until the tumor has reached a large size. Therefore, to make a diagnosis, it is important to evaluate all available information – medical history, exposure to smoking and other harmful factors, symptoms and other data.
To clarify the lung cancer causes, a doctor needs to know about:
- Medical anamnesis – which diseases have been transferred and/or are still ongoing;
- Smoking – whether the patient smokes, how long he has smoked, and how many cigarettes per day;
- Adverse environmental conditions and contact with harmful substances;
- Cancer among family members.
Lung Cancer Symptoms
There is no single group of symptoms that would indicate early signs of lung cancer. However, lung cancer symptoms most commonly reported can be roughly divided into four large categories:
- local abnormalities caused by the growth and spread of cancerous tumors;
- remote metastases;
- non-specific, general symptoms;
- paraneoplastic syndromes.
The spread of lung cancer within the chest (either directly or through lymphatic vessels) is also associated with numerous symptoms and is often the reason why radical (i.e. curing) surgery is not possible.
The most striking example of lung cancer symptoms in men and women caused by remote metastases are the neurological symptoms that cause tumor metastases to the brain: severe headaches, balance disorders, reduced sensitivity and/or low muscle strength in some part of the body.
But can one know what is usually the first sign of lung cancer? There may be non-specific, systemic signs and symptoms (so-called carcinomatous intoxication):
- appetite loss,
- body weight reduction,
- severe weakness
Clinical Manifestations of Lung Cancer
The most common symptoms include coughing, hemoptysis, chest pain and shortness of breath. Coughing is present in 50-75% of patients, more often in patients with flat cell and small cell carcinomas due to the tendency to involve the central airway. When bronchial obturation increases, the cough is accompanied by mucosa or mucosa purulent phlegm. In 20-50% of cases, sputum contains scarlet blood (diffusely or in the form of veins).
The degree of dyspnea in lung cancer correlates with the lumen size of the affected bronchus in central cancer or the size of a peripheral tumor. At localization of the neoplasm in the peripheral parts of the lung, and also in the presence of pleural effusion or lung atelectasis, chest pain is observed.
Paraneoplastic phenomena in lung cancer may include hypercalcemia, Cushing’s syndrome, hematological disorders (anemia, leukocytosis, thrombocytosis, eosinophilia, hypercoagulation), hypertrophic osteoarthropathy, dermato- and polymyositis etc.
Extrathoracic metastasis most often affects the liver, bones, adrenal glands and brain, which leads to the corresponding symptoms.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
A number of environmental and lifestyle factors are associated with the development of lung cancer, and smoking cigarettes is certainly the most important one. According to some estimates, smoking is associated with about 90% of all malignant lung diseases. Passive smoking is also a risk factor for lung cancer. According to WHO, those living next to a smoker are 20-30% more likely to develop the disease, and those who have to work with a smoker are 16-19% more likely to develop it.
A number of other, less important lung cancer risk factors are known, among them:
- Radiation therapy that can increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer;
- Toxins contained in the environment such as asbestos, metals (arsenic, chromium, nickel), ionizing radiation, air pollution;
- Pulmonary fibrosis;
- HIV infection;
- Genetic factors can affect both the risk of cancer and its prediction;
- Frying oils. According to some studies, there is a link between the development of lung cancer and exposure to frying oils, which appears to be due to the mutagenic and/or carcinogenic compounds in calcined oils.
There’s Always a Chance
The most important thing anyone who faces lung cancer should remember is that there’s always a way out- there’s always a chance to cure the disease. Treatment of lung cancer depends on many factors:
- Type of lung cancer (non-small cell or small cell lung cancer);
- Size, localization and spread of cancer;
- The general health of the patient.
At these stages, it is more important for the patient to maintain a comfortable life without feeling any pain. This is where All American Hospice specialists come at aid. Our professional caregivers will manage the patient’s pain and make sure that the person has everything he or she needs. Coughing, respiratory failure, hemoptysis, and chest pain most often affect the quality of life of patients. It is, therefore, the caregiver’s job to reduce them as far as possible. At the same time, weakness, appetite, and emotional well-being will be reduced.
If the cancer was detected early, there are many methods to treat it, and most do not even require chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Patients with an early diagnosed disease can use different methods of treatment and their combinations and be fully cured. That is why it’s so important to contact a medical specialist after you see the first signs of the disease that we mentioned in this article. When we talk about cancer, it is better safe than sorry.