Welcome to an exciting expedition into the exploration of lung cancer! In this blog, we will dive into its causes, symptoms, diagnostic techniques, and preventions, and unlock the door to effective treatments. Let’s navigate this rising issue and equip ourselves with the knowledge to fight lung cancer.
What is lung cancer?
Cancer is a disease in which a person experiences rapid growth of body cells in any part of the body. When cancer occurs in the lungs it is called lung cancer.
Types of lung cancer
There are only two main types of lung cancer:
- Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
- Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
1. Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC)
NSCLC is the most common type of lung cancer. Over 80% of lung cancer patients are reported to encounter NSCLC.
2. Small cell lung cancer (SCLC)
It is often a small lung tumor that has already spread to other parts of your body. SCLC is hard to treat compared to NSCLC because it spreads faster than NSCLC. It only occurs in heavy/chain smokers.
Stages of lung cancer:
Cancer cells start gathering up in mucus, you start to cough. Your tumor does not appear on imaging techniques and biopsy. It is also known as hidden cancer.
The tumor is very small. The cancer cells yet have not spread into your deeper lung tissues or outside the lungs.
Cancer cells reach your lung tissues but do not happen in your lymph nodes.
The disease spreads to the lymph nodes around your lungs
The area of spread has increased. It is now further spread into your lymph node and in the area of your middle chest.
The cancer in your body has widely spread. It can affect your brain, bones, and liver.
What are the leading causes of lung cancer?
The following are the leading causes of cancer:
Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer. While smoking you inhale a high amount of toxins directly in your lungs. Some of these toxins(carcinogens) are responsible for causing cancer. Smoking causes other health-draining side effects. Try to quit smoking for healthy lungs and healthier life.
Even if you don’t smoke, exposure to secondhand smoke can still pose risks of developing the disease.
Radon gas is an invisible, odorless gas that can sneak into our homes through cracks and doors and can contribute to the development of lung cancer.
Air pollution weakens the cells and prevents the production of new cells in the lungs. These cells later form tumors.
What are the symptoms of lung cancer?
Not many people experience symptoms of lung cancer. It can cause different symptoms, and they can vary depending on the stage of the cancer and other factors. Here are some common symptoms:
A cough that gets worse over time and does not go away. It is one of the most common and easy-to-recognize symptoms of lung cancer. It can be a dry cough that produces phlegm or you can spill blood in your cough.
Shortness of breath:
Lung cancer can cause blockages or inflammation in your airways, which makes breathing difficult. People may feel breathless even during regular activities.
Lung cancer causes pain in the chest, shoulders, and back. This pain may be dull or sharp and can worsen with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing.
Feeling tired and lack of energy is a common symptom of lung cancer. People may feel exhausted with minimal physical activity.
Unexplained weight loss:
Sudden and unexplained weight loss can also be a symptom. This weight loss can happen even if a person’s appetite and eating habits remain the same. It can also be a symptom that relates to other diseases. Consult a healthcare provider for a better understanding of the reason.
Hoarseness or voice changes:
If lung cancer affects the nerves or tissues in the chest, it can affect the voice. People may experience hoarseness or notice a change in their voice.
Wheezing is a high-pitched whistling sound that occurs when breathing due to narrowed or blocked airways. It can be a symptom of lung cancer, especially if it’s persistent or gets worse over time.
How to diagnose lung cancer?
You can not detect lung cancer by sitting at home. You need to consult your healthcare provider and talk to them about your situation so they can suggest a few methods to recognize the disease. Following are the procedures of diagnosis:
The benefit of this imaging technology help doctors look into the depths of your lungs, searching for signs of cancer.
A biopsy is a vital procedure that provides definitive confirmation of lung cancer.
Through cancer staging, doctors assess the size and spread of lung cancer cells. It helps in guiding treatment decisions.
Easy ways to prevent lung cancer
Since the definitive causes of cancer are still unknown. You can reduce your risk of getting cancer by following preventative methods. Some preventions to reducethe risk include:
Say No to Tobacco:
Avoid/quit smoking. Smoking is a leading factor in causing lung diseases and cancer. By avoiding this habit, you can make your lungs healthy. Gain knowledge on the harmful effects of smoking and if you are already a smoker try quitting methods.
Step into the realm of healthy living, consume a balanced diet, regular exercise, and breathe clean air in. These lifestyle habits can help you prevent other diseases and improve your immune system.
Empower yourself with knowledge on reducing air pollution, supporting clean air initiatives, and playing your part in protecting the environment. If you live in a polluted atmosphere, start using air purifiers in your homes.
5 Effective treatments available for lung cancer
There are several treatment options available for lung cancer, and the best one for each person depends on factors like the stage of the cancer and overall health. Let’s dive into an explanation of a few common treatments:
In the early stages of cancer when it hasn’t spread, doctors may try to remove the tumor by performing surgery. This involves removing an affected part of the lung or sometimes the entire lung.
2. Radiation therapy:
This treatment uses high-energy waves, like X-rays, to kill cancer cells. Radiation can be used alone(by itself only) or with a few other treatments. It’s often used for tumors that can’t be surgically removed or to treat areas with cancer cells that remain after surgery.
This treatment uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Chemotherapy is given in repeated cycles, with gap periods, to allow your body to recover. It can be used as a primary treatment or in combination with surgery, radiation, or other therapies.
4. Targeted therapy:
This type of treatment targets specific characteristics of cancer cells to stop their growth and spread. It’s often used for advanced lung cancers that have specific genetic mutations.
This treatment revives the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells. It can be used for some lung cancers and has shown promising results.
It’s important to remember that every patient’s situation is unique, and treatment plans may vary from person to person. Healthcare professionals will work closely with patients to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment options. If symptoms are persistent or if you have concerns, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for a proper understanding of the situation and diagnosis.
Do breathing exercises help the lungs?
If practiced regularly, it can help improve the health of your lungs. Other than that, breathing exercises also have more benefits. such as:
- Improve the quality of your sleep
- Detox our body
- Improve your cardiovascular health
- Glow your skin
When is coughing a possible sign of lung cancer?
Coughing can be a possible sign, when it is persistent and worsens over time. Especially, if accompanied by other symptoms like shortness of breath, chest pain, hoarseness, weight loss, or coughing up blood.
It is important to note that coughing can also be caused by other factors, such as respiratory infections or allergies. It is always a good idea to consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns about a persistent cough or other potential symptoms.
Does each type of lung cancer exhibit different symptoms?
The symptoms of all types of cancer are usually the same. The symptoms may differ in the late stages. A person with stage 4 will experience slightly different symptoms from others such as:
- Loss of appetite
- Neurological damage and memory loss
- Extreme and unintended weight loss
How does stage four lung cancer differ from earlier stages of the disease?
Cancer in stage 4 starts spreading into other parts of your body. In stage 4 cancer cells enter your bloodstream increasing the risk of spreading anywhere in the body. Whereas, until stage three cancer remains in and around the lungs and lymph nodes.
Does vaping cause lung cancer?
Studies have suggested a link between vaping and lung injury. Some cases have shown severe lung damage and even death related to vaping. As for lung cancer specifically, there is not any authentic answer yet.
Traditional tobacco smoking is a proven cause of lung cancer. Vaping also involves inhaling chemicals into the lungs, it is advised to stay cautious. It is always recommended to refer to a healthcare professional for accurate and up-to-date information.