Lung cancer is a disease that occurs in the tissues of the lungs. According to the American Lung Cancer Society, lung cancer is the number one mortality cause in women and men. It also results in more deaths than breast, prostate and colon cancers combined. It has also been known that the most common cause of lung cancer is tobacco smoke, which accounts to 80% of lung cancer incidents. This illness is also more common in elderly as 70% of cases dealing with lung cancer occur in people aged 65 and above.
Types. The two primary kinds of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). These two kinds of lung cancers develop and spread in various manners and may have dissimilar treatment selections, therefore a differentiation between the two is important. The SCLC appears mostly in smokers, but a small proportion of patients with this type of lung cancer are non-smokers. The NSCLS is the most prevalent between the two as 85% of all lung cancer belongs to this type.
Symptoms. It may take years to develop and may be undetected on X-rays and may show no symptoms. Before it is discovered, it may have already spread to other parts of the body. This is why lung cancer is a very threatening disease. Indications that a person has a lung cancer are of various kinds depending on the location and the extent of the spread of the tumor. A person with lung cancer may show the following symptoms:
- Symptoms in connection with cancer. The spread of cancer cells may affect breathing, resulting into signs such as cough, briefness of breathing, aching in the chest and coughing with blood. When the cancer has reached the nerves, you may feel some shoulder pains that extend up to the external portion of the arm or paralysis of the vocal chords that could result to huskiness of the voice. If the cancer cells invade your esophagus, you may experience difficulty in swallowing.
- Symptoms in connection with metastasis. Cancer that has reached the bones may create a very painful feeling at the site invaded by the cancer cells. Cancer that has attacked the brain may result to neurological signs, which include fuzzy vision, seizures, or signs of stroke, which includes numbness in some parts of the body.
- Paraneoplastic signs. When you have lung cancer, you may experience symptoms that result from the synthesis of materials, akin to hormones, by the tumor cells.
- Nonspecific symptoms. You may notice decrease in your weight, feebleness and tiredness when you are having lung cancer. Some psychological changes are also apparent such as mood swings and depression.
When to consult a doctor. You should consult your physician if you notice that you have any of the symptoms associated with lung cancer enumerated above particularly if you have developed a new and enduring cough or aggravating of a chronic one. You should also seek medical assistance if you notice blood in your sputum, aching in your chest, sudden decrease in weight, tiredness and when you experience difficulty in your breathing.