Your lungs remove carbon dioxide from your blood before enriching it with oxygen and sending it back to your heart. If cells within any of the lobes develop abnormally, they can become cancerous. If lung cancer (LC) forms, it can spread throughout the rest of your body.
One of the challenges of this disease is that symptoms do not manifest in a quarter of diagnosed cases. The affliction is identified through a routine computerized tomography scan or chest X-rays. The problem is that by the time a doctor is able to diagnose it, the cancerous cells may have already started to metastasize (spread from their original site). That is the reason it is important to recognize symptoms when they present.
Below, we’ll describe the most common symptoms associated with lung cancer. The earlier you can detect them, the greater likelihood of successfully removing the diseased tissue.
Warning Signs Of A Cancerous Growth
As noted, 25% of diagnosed LC cases are discovered when a physician performs a CT scan or takes X-rays of the chest. If a tumor exists, it will show up as a small mass. Until other tests are done, it is nearly impossible to determine whether the mass is benign or malignant.
If cancerous cells are present and have begun to spread to other areas of the tissue, you may notice a marked shortness of breath. You might also develop a persistent cough; in many cases, it will be reminiscent of the cough of an habitual smoker. Some patients report that their cough is accompanied by blood. Other warning signs of the disease are chest pain, shoulder pain (in the event that the cancerous cells have spread to the nerves), and hoarseness.
If the cancerous cells metastasize and spread to the bones, you may experience a staggering level of pain. If the infliction spreads to the brain, it can trigger headaches, numbness in certain areas, and even seizures.
Complications From The Disease
Metastasis can quickly lead to life-threatening circumstances. When LC spreads, it infects the liver, brain, and bones. A condition called pleural effusion can also occur in which the space between the lungs and chest cavity fill with fluid. As a result, you might experience a shortness in breath.
Aside from chemotherapy drugs, treatment is usually limited to controlling the severity of the symptoms once the cancerous cells have metastasized. For example, in the case of pleural effusion, the fluid can be drained, but the underlying problem cannot be surgically repaired.
It is estimated that six out of ten people who are diagnosed with lung cancer die within twelve months of the diagnosis. It is the most deadly form of cancer in the U.S. As noted, the earlier it is diagnosed, the more effectively it can be treated. If you notice any of the symptoms described above, consult your doctor immediately.