Before understanding what is lung cancer, this is the right time to understand what is cancer. It is a disease that is caused due to uncontrolled multiplication of abnormal cells in any part of the body. When this uncontrolled multiplication happens, it turns out to be tumor or malignant growth.
As we now know, what is cancer, we can automatically understand what is lung cancer. Yes, your guess is right. It is such an uncontrolled multiplication taking place in the lungs.
What causes cancer?
This disease is caused by changes to the DNA within cells. In general, the DNA inside the cell in the human body is packaged into a large number of separate genes. Each of these genes contains a set of orders that tell the cells about the functions they will have to perform and also how to grow themselves and divide. When errors occur in the instructions, the cell will stop its normal functioning, thereby turning out to be cancerous. This disease is generally classified into four stages. So, it becomes important to understand the stages of cancer. When it is identified at the first stage, the disease can be completely eradicated. But, when it has reached further stages, intense treatment might be needed.
Stages of cancer:
- Situ cancer or Localized cancer.
- Stage 2 involves spreading of the disease to the local lymph nodes
- Stage 3 denotes more extensive lymph node involvement and
- Stage 4 is a stage, wherein the disease has spread to distant organs in the body as well through lymph nodes.
Now, we have understood what is cancer, what causes cancer, stages of cancer, what is lung cancer,What causes lung cancer. Now, it is time to get into some details about lung cancer on account of the forthcoming lung cancer awareness month.
What causes lung cancer?
It is stated that heavy exposure to environmental tobacco smoke is known to increase the chances of lung cancer. Smoking is stated to be the important reason for lung cancer and not just active smokers, but passive smokers are also at the risk.
Signs of lung cancer:
- A cough that does not go away or that gets worse.
- Chest pain that worsens with laughing, coughing and deep breathing.
- Loss of appetite or weight loss.
- When blood comes with cough.
- Difficulty in breathing.
- Heavy tiredness.
- New onset of wheezing.
- Infections like pneumonia or bronchitis that keeps coming back or does not go away.
When these are the common lung cancer symptoms, it is better to understand what will happen, if the disease spreads or when it reaches further stages:
- Pain in bones like in hips or back.
- Changes in the nervous system like headache, numbness in legs or arms, loss of balance, when the cancer has spread to brain.
- If the cancer has spread to liver, it can lead to yellow skin and eyes.
- When it spreads to skin or lymph nodes, it can lead to lumps near the body surface.
When these signs of lung cancer are experienced, it is better to get medical checkup to make sure that there is nothing serious happening in the body. The reason for this is that these symptoms can be caused due to other problems in the body.
How is lung cancer diagnosed?
When it comes to lung cancer diagnosis, if there are reasons to doubt whether a patient has lung cancer, the doctor might order a number of tests to look for cancerous cells in the body, such that other conditions can be ruled out. The doctor might recommend the following tests:
- An X-ray of lungs may showcase any abnormal nodule or mass in the lungs. If doubted, the doctor might prescribe a CT scan for revealing small lesions that might not be detected through an X-Ray.
- Sputum cytology is a test, wherein if the patient has cough with sputum, it will be viewed under microscope for the presence of lung cancer cells
- A biopsy might be conducted for removal of abnormal cells from lungs, so that the tissues can be tested for presence of cancerous cells.
If presence of lung cancer is found, the doctor might work to find the exact stage of the disease. This is done to identify the right treatment.
Life expectancy of lung cancer:
Patients with lung cancer generally have a fear about lung cancer life expectancy. Generally, doctors state that the life expectancy of a patient is decided on the basis of different factors like those mentioned below:
- The particular type of lung cancer and its location.
- Age of the patient. Of course, younger the individual, longer he can live.
- Sex as lung cancer life expectancy for women is higher as compared to men.
- General health of the individual at the time of lung cancer diagnosis. The more healthy, longer will be the life expectancy.
- The way in which the patient responds to the treatment is yet another deciding factor.
- Any other health conditions the individual has will also decide his/her lung cancer life expectancy.
- Complications like blood clots along with lung cancer can bring down the life expectancy.
Like the lung cancer awareness month, cancer awareness week is followed for different types of cancers. For instance, certain types of cancers occur only in women, while some occur only in men. Even though, lung cancer is common in both sexes, women are recommended to get regular screening for breast, cervical and ovarian cancer. To create awareness among the target group, cancer awareness week is followed in different countries of the world then and there and even free screening camps are organized. People are recommended to make effective use of these opportunities to get complete check up to make sure that they are free of any sort of life threatening health risks.
On this lung cancer awareness month, let us get complete master health checkup to make sure that everything is fine in our health. Also, let us understand how to prevent lung cancer.