What Is Lung Cancer
Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, “lung cancer starts in the cells of the lung,” and when it starts in lung cells, “it is called primary lung cancer.”
Lung cancers are usually grouped into two main types called small cell and non-small cell.
Nonsmall cell lung cancer usually starts in glandular cells on the outer part of the lung, and small cell lung cancer usually starts in cells that line the bronchi in the centre of the lungs. Nonsmall cell is more common.
According to Cheng, while lung cancer might not be as common as skin or breast cancer for example, it’s the mortality rate that’s concerning.
“Lung cancer is actually the number one cause of cancer death. It is common but its actually the mortality thats the biggest issue.”Dr. Susanna Cheng
“Lung cancer is actually the number one cause of cancer death,” says Cheng. “It is common but its actually the mortality thats the biggest issue. Stage by stage lung cancer is prognostically worse than most cancers.”
Coughing Up Blood Or Rust
Coughing up blood is always something to be concerned about. The medical term for this is hemoptysis, and it refers to blood coughed up from the lungs.
Coughing up blood or rusty-colored sputum is a common lung cancer symptom that you should not ignore. Between 7-10 % of lung cancer patients¹ will experience it.
With further tests, your doctor will need to determine whether the blood originates from the lungs or upper respiratory tract.
Losing Weight Without Any Reason
You may have an unexplained weight loss of about 10 pounds in the condition of lung cancer. Loss in weight occurs by cancer cells that use up all energy, and also, it could be due to a change in the way your body using power from food. If you have lost weight without making any efforts to lose it, it can signify lung cancer.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Lung Cancer
Coughing and chest pain may be symptoms of lung cancer.
Different people have different symptoms for lung cancer. Some people have symptoms related to the lungs. Some people whose lung cancer has spread to other parts of the body have symptoms specific to that part of the body. Some people just have general symptoms of not feeling well. Most people with lung cancer dont have symptoms until the cancer is advanced. Lung cancer symptoms may include
- Coughing that gets worse or doesnt go away.
- Feeling very tired all the time.
- Weight loss with no known cause.
Other changes that can sometimes occur with lung cancer may include repeated bouts of pneumonia and swollen or enlarged lymph nodes inside the chest in the area between the lungs.
These symptoms can happen with other illnesses, too. If you have some of these symptoms, talk to your doctor, who can help find the cause.
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Who Should Be Screened For Lung Cancer
People who have a high risk of developing lung cancer should be screened. Johns Hopkins Medicine says the following are criteria for high-risk individuals:
- A history of heavy smoking .
- Current or former smokers who quit within the past 15-years.
- Are between the ages of 55 to 80.
If youre worried about your risk of lung cancer, contact your doctor. They can help determine if youre at risk, whether you should be screened, and help you develop healthy habits to reduce your risk.
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Smoking Is One Of The Main Causes Of Lung Cancer:
- Smoking causes 80% of the lung cancer deaths in women and 90% in men.
- Men that smoke are 23 times more likely to get lung cancer.
- Female smokers are 13 times more prone to develop lung cancer.
But non-smokers get lung cancer too risk factors include radon gas and worked-related exposure to carcinogens. Non-smokers who are exposed to second-hand smoke have a 20-30% greater risk for developing lung cancer.
Lung cancer is most common in people over 65. However, younger adults can and do develop lung cancer, but less than 2% of patients are below 35.
What Are The Signs Of Small Cell Lung Cancer
“Unfortunately, the most common symptom of lung cancer is really no symptoms at all,” Dr Hogue said. “It takes a certain volume or size of tumor before it would cause any symptoms. So that’s why screening for people that are high risk can be important. But for some people that present with symptoms, certainly if you had a cough that doesn’t get better, if you’re coughing up blood, if you’re losing weight, if you’re short of breath, these are all reasons to go to your primary care doctor and do some additional investigation.”
As the lung cancer progresses, a person may experience these signs:
- Changes in the voice or being hoarse
- Recurrent pneumonia or bronchitis
- Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
A lot of young people ignore symptoms, Dr. Mahngar said. If you have a cough that lasts more than a week or two, you need to see a provider. If you have shortness of breath, getting winded doing the things you usually do with ease, see your doctor. If you have unexplained weight loss of 5 to 10 pounds and youre not trying to lose weight, its generally a sign theres a process in the body happening.
Other signs of small cell lung cancer may include:
- Swelling of the neck or face
- Coughing up phlegm or mucus
Talk to your Franciscan Health physician if youre experiencing common lung cancer symptoms.
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Body Pains That Indicate Cancer
“Certain types of body pain can be associated with cancer and one should be very aware that this type of a body pain may be more serious. In general, body pain associated with cancer will have 2 or 3 characteristic features,” says Dr Prasad Kasbekar, Consultant Surgical Oncologist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai.
Dr Kasbekar lists the types of body pains that could indicate cancerous growth in the body.
Lung Cancer Screenings And Treatment
New technologies to treat and screen for lung cancer are available, and researchers are always working on new ways to screen for and treat this disease. Screening for lung cancer has been shown to reduce the death rate from lung cancer and should be part of routine health care maintenance.
Even if you are in fairly good health, you should have a lung cancer screening as you get older, especially if you:
- Are 50 to 77 years old
- Smoke or quit smoking within the last 15 years
UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, partner with University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has been at the forefront of research of lung and esophageal. To learn more about UPMC Hillman Cancer Center or to schedule an appointment, please call 412-623-LUNG or visit the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center website.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on December 5, 2015, and was last reviewed on March 15, 2022
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Croaky Voice Persistent Cough Or Breathlessness
Having a croaky voice that hasnt gone away on its own should be checked out.
As should a unexplained cough doesnt go away in a few weeks.
Its not unusual to feel out of breath every now and then. But if you notice that youre feeling breathless more than usual or for a lot of the time, tell your doctor.
If you have a hoarse voice for more than 3 weeks, it could be a sign of cancer of the larynx, according to the NHS website.
Lung Cancer Symptoms In Women And Men
Lung cancer is the second most common type of cancer diagnosed in both men and women , according to the American Cancer Society . Only prostate cancer is more common for men, and breast cancer is more common for women.
However, lung cancer is the No. 1 cause of cancer death for both genders by far compared with other cancers. Below is a look at the statistics.
- About 117,910 men and 118,830 women are expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2022, according to the ACS, with an estimated 68,820 deaths among men and 61,360 among women.
- The number of men diagnosed with lung cancer has decreased in the past four-plus decades, according to the American Lung Association. Diagnosis rates among women were on the rise during the same time period but have started to decline.
- Women tend to be diagnosed at an earlier age than men.
- Women who develop lung cancer before menopause are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced disease.
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Risk Factors Of Lung Cancer
First, its important to note if you are at higher risk for lung cancer. Some factors such as being a smoker, living with a smoker, or certain chemical exposure can cause lung cancer. While these things may be risk factors, there are also other more surprising signs of lung cancer you should know about.
Chemotherapy And Targeted Therapies
Chemotherapy is the use of drugs that are designed to kill rapidly growing cells, such as cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be injected directly into a vein or given through a catheter, which is a thin tube placed into a large vein and kept there until it is no longer needed. Some chemotherapy drugs are taken orally in pill form.
Targeted agents are a newer class of drugs that are designed to act against specific weaknesses in cancer cells or surrounding supportive tissues, such as blood vessels. These drugs can also be taken orally or by IV. They are most effective in cancers with specific changes in their genes or cell receptors.
In early stages of non-small cell cancer, chemotherapy may be used in conjunction with surgery to improve survival rates. In more advanced stages of non-small cell cancer and in all stages of small cell cancer, chemotherapy and targeted therapies may be used to relieve symptoms and extend life.
Chemotherapy affects both normal cells and cancer cells. Your doctors will try to prevent side effects as much as possible while treating the cancer appropriately. Side effects depend largely on the specific type of drug and the amount given. They can be different for each person and may be only temporary. Common side effects of chemotherapy include nausea and vomiting, hair loss, mouth sores and/ or fatigue. Your healthcare providers can suggest ways to make any side effects manageable and to help improve symptoms that may occur during and after procedures.
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Early Signs Of Lung Cancer
When it comes to cancer, early detection is generally the key to successful treatment. Lung cancer is no exception. Many types of cancer do not always present symptoms until the tumors have significantly progressed, and other forms present symptoms that are subtle enough or resemble other illnesses not to be taken seriously initially.
Knowing the risk factors associated with lung cancer, and how they affect you individually should be part of every comprehensive wellness and health care plan. Although cancer cannot always be predicted or avoided, understanding the early warning signs of lung tumors can help to increase the likelihood of early detection and successful treatment.
What Are Symptoms Of Lung Cancer
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer are not always present until the disease advances. However, some people do have symptoms early. These include:
- Coughing that does not improve
- Infections that return or will not clear
- Chest pain that gets worse with cough or laugh
Advanced lung cancer symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue and/or unintentional weight loss. Signs and symptoms that might appear if the cancer has spread to other places include bone pain, headache, muscle weakness and/or eyelid drooping.
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Can Lung Cancer Be Prevented
While lung cancer cant always be prevented, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. For starters, if you smoke, its really time to quit and if you dont smoke, dont start! Quitting smoking is not easy, so reach out to your doctor for support. The Cleveland Clinic also notes, Your risk of lung cancer starts coming down within five years of quitting.
Other ways you can reduce your risk for lung cancer is by avoiding secondhand smoke as well as other substances that can be harmful to your lungs. Eating a healthy balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight for you is also important for reducing your risk of cancer. Finally, if you have a high risk of lung cancer, you should be screened.
Women And Lung Cancer: Learn The Warning Signs
This week is National Women’s Lung Health Week, and according to The American Lung Association, 98 percent of American women do not even have lung cancer on their health radar. In fact, their studies show that 77 percent of women ignore the early warning signs of the disease, and by the time they receive a diagnosis, they have late stage lung cancer.
Why? When people think of female cancers, they tend to think of breast and ovaries, explains Dr. Shadia Jalal, a thoracic oncologist at Indiana University Health. But the truth is that lung cancer is a womans disease as well. More women die from lung cancer than die from breast cancer and ovarian cancer combined. Because men and women both have lungs, no one really thinks of it as a womens disease, but it is really a womens health issue that people should be very aware of.
While the stereotype is that only smokers or recent former smokers can get lung cancer, that is not the case. According to Dr. Jalal, 20 percent of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer have never smoked, and the majority of non-smokers diagnosed with lung cancer are women, facts that Dr. Jalal has personally witnessed in her own practice.
The majority of the time, if someone has respiratory complaints, such as a chronic cough, hemoptysis which is coughing up blood, constant chest pain, uncontrollable wheezing and shortness of breath, these are usually concerning symptoms, cautions Dr. Jalal.
— By Gia Miller
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A fit and healthy father diagnosed with stage four cancer says he was left looking like the Nightmare on Elm Street after a horrific reaction to chemotherapy left him too embarrassed to go to his young sons cricket matches and is now hoping to save his life with a ground-breaking vaccine.
Geoffrey Seymour, 41, a procurement specialist, loved playing tennis, basketball and cricket and had always been healthy until just before his 41st birthday when he began experiencing blood in his stool.
Geoffrey was aware of this being a symptom for cancer from adverts on the television, so quickly went to his GP.
Geoffrey, who lives in Richmond, London, with his wife Santa, 44, and their son Marco, 10, was diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer, which had spread from his colon to his liver a situation so severe and seemingly hopeless he likened it to being wrapped in a paper bag that is on fire.
He also had a bad reaction to chemotherapy severely blistering the skin on his face and, according to Geoffrey, making him look like Freddy Krueger from the 1984 horror film, Nightmare on Elm Street.
What Is Small Cell Lung Cancer
Small cell lung cancer is a fast-growing lung cancer that develops in the tissues of the lungs. Small cell lung cancer often begins in the nerve cells or hormone-producing cells of the lung. The term small cell refers to the size and shape of the cancer cells as seen under a microscope. Small cell lung cancer often metastasizes at a faster pace and earlier stage than non-small cell lung cancer.
“Depending on which cell has overgrown, our pathology doctors, when they look at it under the microscope, they give it a classification. So what cell of origin did it come from?” said Corey Hogue, MD, a radiation oncologist with the Franciscan Health Woodland Cancer Center in Michigan City. “Tthere’s two types that happen to be called small cell and non-small cell. For patients, it matters because the treatments between the two types are very different. So whenever doctors come together and decide the best treatment option, we have to consider the cell of origin because they respond to different treatments and it can impact the recommendations that a patient would get.”
There were an estimated 228,000 new cases of lung cancer in the United States in 2020, and about 10 percent to 15 percent of people with lung cancer have small cell lung cancer.
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Puffiness In The Face Arms And Neck
Sometimes tumors can block off the superior vena cava, a large vein that carries blood from the head and arms to the heart. When this occurs, blood gets trapped in the upper body, resulting in swelling of the face, neck, and arms. It may also produce a bluish-red discoloration on the chest. The swelling may start in one area and move to others as the condition gets worse.