HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Lung Cancer

By Shannon Pierce

Lung cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in one or both lungs. These abnormal cells do not perform the functions that normal lung cells do and they do not develop into healthy lung tissue. As they grow, the abnormal cells can form tumors and interfere with the primary function of the lung, which delivers oxygen to the body.

Lung Cancer Symptoms

The alarming part about lung cancer is that the symptoms may not show until the disease is very advanced.  The symptoms may not develop until years after the cancer has begun taking its course on the body. The challenging part is detecting it early.

Many symptoms of lung cancer take place in the chest.

These include:

  • Persistent and intense coughing
  • Chest pains
  • Back pains
  • Shoulder pains
  • A change in color or volume of sputum
  • Shortness of breath
  • Changes in the voice
  • Having a hoarse voice
  • Harsh sounds with each breath (stridor)
  • Reoccurring pneumonia
  • Reoccurring bronchitis
  • Coughing up phlegm or mucus
  • Coughing up blood

 

Once the lung cancer has spread, an individual may feel symptoms in their lymph nodes, brain, bones, liver, and adrenal glands.

Symptoms in other parts of the body:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Muscle wasting (also known as cachexia)
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Bone fractures not related to accidental injury
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Memory loss
  • Neck or facial swelling
  • General weakness
  • Bleeding
  • Blood clots

 

Lung Cancer Causes

Cancer, including lung cancer, begins with an error in a cell’s DNA.  These error’s in a cell’s DNA can be caused by the typical aging process. They can also be caused through environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke, breathing in asbestos fibers, and to exposure to radon gas.

It is estimated that 8 to 14% of lung cancer is due to inherited factors. In relatives of people with lung cancer, the risk is increased 2.4 times. This is likely due to a combination of genes.

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

In order to diagnose cancer, a piece of tissue from the lung must be examined under a microscope to look for the mutated cells. This procedure is called a biopsy and can be performed in different ways.

A chest radiograph is one of the first procedures performed when a doctor believes that a patient may have lung cancer. This x-ray provides any obvious masses that should not be located in the patient’s chest.  If a tumor or mass is detected, further tests are taken.

In a procedure called a needle biopsy, a needle is passed through the skin into the lungs to remove a small piece of tissue. To perform another method, called a bronchoscopy, a small tube is inserted through the mouth or nose and into the lungs. The tube shines a light on the

 

Lung Cancer Treatment

Treatments of lung cancer include various medical therapies, such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. If the cancer can be removed with surgery, the patient has a better chance of survival. After surgery, radiation therapy may be helpful in killing any lingering cancer cells. Radiation uses x-rays or gamma rays to kill the cancer cells and stop them from spreading further.  Chemotherapy is a medicine that is used to kill cancer cells. This medicine can also shrink lymph nodes containing cancerous cells.  Various combinations of these treatments may be necessary based on each individual patient.


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