Lung Cancer Warning Signs

Lung cancer is the most serious type of cancer there is. It is tough to detect and treat. Be aware of exactly what it is, who is at risk and how to find out if you have it. Everyone knows that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, but did you know that you can get it even if you don’t smoke and haven’t been exposed to 2nd hand smoke? Find out if you or your loved ones are at risk and which lung cancer treatments may be recommended.

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What are lung cancer symptoms?


Persistent, difficult-to-control coughing, coughing with excessive amounts of mucous and blood in the mucous and fatigue are the most common signs of lung cancer. Unfortunately, these can also be symptoms of less deadly lung conditions like severe bronchitis, so most people ignore them. Other common symptoms are shortness of breath, hoarseness, and wheezing. You may experience chest pain, bone pain, and headaches. Lung cancer can also cause unexplained weight loss.


How can I find out if I have lung cancer?


If you have symptoms, make an appointment to get your lungs checked. Your physician may do a sputum cytology or a biopsy of your lung tissue to get a more accurate diagnosis. This is especially important if you are a smoker or are regularly exposed to high levels of pollution or cancer-causing chemical vapors.


What treatment options are there?


Lung cancer treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and drug therapy. Your physician will make recommendations based on your overall health and how far cancer has progressed. If it is too advanced, he or she may recommend only basic comfort care. This usually includes medication for pain and treatment for shortness of breath.


Should I include certain foods in my diet during treatment?


Yes, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, orange vegetables and berries are a handful of the foods that can help you recover. Many treatment centers will have a Registered Dietician available for counseling. You will generally want to adjust your diet to make sure your nutritional needs are met. Your diet will also most likely change throughout the course of your treatment, depending on how you are feeling. For example, your dietitian might suggest that you eat cold food if you are feeling nauseous or frequent, smaller meals with high-protein snacks if you get tired easily.


Are there different types of lung cancer?


Yes, there are three different types of lung cancer: lung carcinoid tumors, small cell lung cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer. There are also subtypes. Adenocarcinoma, large cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma are all subtypes of non-small cell lung cancer.


If I quit smoking now can I still get lung cancer?


Yes. However, you will reduce your risk of getting lung cancer if you quit. Lung tissue can and usually does repair itself to a certain extent. Your lungs' ability to recover depends on how long you've been smoking and how much you smoke. Quitting immediately will definitely help, though.


What is the survival rate of this type of cancer?


The survival rate depends in large part on how quickly the cancer is diagnosed. You have a better chance of survival if the cancer is discovered early on before it spreads to your lymph nodes. This is called Stage 1 in NSCLC. The earliest stage of SCLC is referred to as "Limited Stage." This means the cancer is located on only one side, in 1 small area of the lung and has spread to lymph nodes in the immediate area. Unfortunately, the cancer is usually too advanced for successful treatment by the time it is diagnosed.

Lung cancer is the number 1 cause of cancer deaths. In fact, more people die from lung cancer than from breast, colon, ovarian and prostate cancers combined!


What is lung cancer?


Lung cancer is an aggressive growth of abnormal cells in lung tissue. These cells do not perform like normal, healthy lung tissue. Instead, they commonly form tumors which make it difficult for the lungs to deliver oxygen to your circulatory system.


What if I don't have symptoms but I am at risk?


If you don't have symptoms, you should still talk to your doctor about getting a lung cancer screening if you are: age 55 to 74, in reasonably good health, have smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years or 1 pack a day for 30 years, are still smoking or have quit within the past 15 years. If you meet these criteria, you and your doctor should discuss getting an LDCT scan. This is a special CT scan that gives doctors a close look at any abnormalities in the lung tissue.


Which type of lung cancer is most serious?


Small cell lung cancer, or SCLC, is the most serious type of cancer. About 15% of all patients diagnosed with lung cancer have SCLC. It is also harder to treat with chemotherapy than non-small cell lung cancer, or NSCLC. Lung cancer that is diagnosed as lung carcinoid tumor is the least serious of the 3. This type of lung cancer accounts for less than 5% of all diagnosed cases. The tumors, also known as lung neuroendocrine tumors, tend to grow quite slowly and commonly do not spread.


Are there any alternative treatment options?


Alternative treatments don't cure lung cancer, but they can help you fight it. Talk to your doctor about incorporating them into your regular treatment. Acupuncture, massage, hypnosis, meditation and yoga can all help you feel better, improve circulation (which is always good) and lift your spirits. Cancer treatment that includes 1 or all of these alternative options can make your traditional medical treatment more successful.

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