Cancer is a grave disease that is unfortunately for now without a cure. Even though treatments are available worldwide, still tackling this disease is a mentally, physically and financially draining ordeal. One of the most common types of cancer is lung cancer. Twenty percent of all cancer-related deaths in both men and women are caused by lung cancer.
The pathological process involves an uncontrolled proliferation of aberrant cells in the lungs, which can manifest as tumours that invade surrounding tissue and metastasize to other organs. Generally, the symptoms of lung cancer include persistent coughing, shortness of breath and chest pain.
Like in the case of most cancers, early detection and effective medical treatment is an essential part of recovery in the case of lung cancer as well. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to any noticeable changes in one’s body and seek immediate medical attention for any persistent symptoms.
What is Lung Cancer?
Lung cancer is caused when there is a widespread growth of cancerous cells within the lungs. These malignant cells then form a cluster thus leading to abnormal tissue growth. This excessive accumulation of malignant cells which leads to the formation of a neoplasm causes obstruction of airflow. Originating in the lungs, the malignant cells then eventually spread to other organs if effective treatment is not initiated.
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of lung cancers. One is called the non-small lung cancer or NSCLC and the other one is known as the small cell lung cancer or SCLC. Out of the two, NSCLC accounts for 85 percent of all cases. Even though SCLC is relatively less common, it is more aggressive as it spreads more swiftly than NSCLC.
The symptoms of lung cancer become more noticeable with the passage of time. As lung cancer progresses from its initial stages the symptoms also grow more prominent. The following are some of the most common symptoms of lung cancer:
- Coughing that does not go away or worsens over time
- Wheezing or shortness of breath
- Pain in the chest that intensifies with heavy breathing, coughing, or laughing
- Hoarseness or a shift in voice
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum
- Bronchitis and pneumonia are common lung illnesses.
- Fatigue, weakness, or sudden weight loss
It can be difficult to detect lung cancer at its onset, which is why undergoing regular screening as per the advice of one’s healthcare provider is extremely important. Besides the regular screening one should also be aware of the risk factors for lung cancers. Smoking or exposure to second hand smoke, radon gas and a family history of the disease are some of the most common risk factors for lung cancer.
Explanation of the Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is a serious illness that requires early detection and treatment. Knowing the signs and symptoms of lung cancer is essential for early diagnosis and better treatment outcomes. The following are the most typical signs of lung cancer:
- Persistent Cough: Cough that won’t go away or worsens over time can be an indicator of Lung cancer. It’s crucial to contact a doctor if your cough persists for more than two weeks.
- Breathing Problems: Shortness of breath, wheezing, or breathing difficulties may be signs of lung cancer. It could also be a sign that cancer from other places of the body has spread to the lungs.
- Chest Discomfort: Lung cancer may be present if the pain in the chest, shoulders, or back gets worse with heavy breathing, coughing, or laughing.
- Unexplained Weight Loss: If you lose weight without trying, it could be a symptom of lung cancer. This is because the cancer cells use a lot of energy, causing weight loss.
- Fatigue: Extreme tiredness, weakness, or rundowns might be symptoms of lung cancer. This is because cancer cells consume a lot of energy, thus causing bodily exhaustion.
- Hoarseness: Lung cancer may be indicated by a change in your voice, such as becoming hoarse or raspy.
- Blood in Phlegm: Blood-stained phlegm or bloody mucus in the cough is a serious indicator of lung cancer. The moment you notice this condition, you should consult a physician.
Temporary Solutions to Manage the Symptoms
It’s important to note that lung cancer should always be treated by a medical professional, and mild symptoms should not be ignored. However, some temporary solutions can help alleviate symptoms while waiting for medical attention. Here are some suggestions for managing mild symptoms of lung cancer:
- Cough: A persistent cough can be managed by drinking plenty of fluids to help thin mucus, using a humidifier, and avoiding smoke or other irritants. Over-the-counter cough medicines can also help alleviate coughing.
- Shortness of Breath: This symptom can be managed by practicing deep breathing exercises, using a fan or air conditioning to increase airflow, and avoiding physical activity that may worsen symptoms.
- Chest Pain: Pain can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications, applying heat or ice to the affected area, and avoiding activities that may worsen the pain.
- Fatigue: Resting and getting enough sleep can help manage fatigue. It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet and stay hydrated.
When You Should See a Doctor
Immediate medical consultation is advisable if you find yourself experiencing the symptoms mentioned above for a considerable duration.
Experiencing these symptoms is not a clear indication of lung cancer, as these symptoms can be a consequence of other underlying ailments.
But to rule out the possibility of lung cancer definitively prompt medical consultation is required.
Your physician may recommend a multitude of diagnostic modalities, including but not limited to chest radiographs, computed tomography (CT) scans, and histologic examinations. These measures serve to affirm or negate the likelihood of lung cancer. Timely detection and management can significantly augment the prospects of receiving superlative healthcare and convalescence. It is imperative to confer with your doctor regarding your smoking history and exposure to deleterious agents.
It is important to be aware of the changes in your physical health. If you find yourself suffering from persistent symptoms then taking immediate medical consultation is advisable. Seeking a second opinion from another doctor can provide valuable insights and ensure that you receive the best possible medical care.