Signs and symptoms of Lung Cancer

Signs and symptoms of Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer is also called as “Carcinoma of the Lung” or “Pulmonary Carcinoma”. Cancer consists of a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth, which have the capability of spreading to the other parts of the body. If the cancer affects the normal cell growth of lungs, it is called as lung cancer.

In nutshell, Human body possesses a pair of lungs. They are sponge like organs, which perform respiratory functions in our body. A thin layer of muscular tissue called as Pleura covers the lungs; this layer protects the lungs from crushing allowing flexible movement of lungs during expanding and contrasting while we inhale and exhale. Right lung is compartmented into three sections and left lung comprises of 2 sections, called as Lobes. 

The left lung is smaller in size than right lung.
When we breathe in, air passes through the nose and reaches lungs through trachea and this process is called as Inhalation. Trachea is also called as Windpipe. Trachea divides into tubes called as Bronchi, which enter into the lungs and further divides to form small branches called as Bronchioles. At the end of these bronchioles, small air sacs are present known as Alveoli. 

Many of the blood vessels pass through the alveoli, and these blood vessels absorb oxygen (O2) from inhaled air and releases carbon dioxide (CO2) collected from the body into the alveoli. Then this carbon dioxide passes through the trachea and releases out into the atmosphere through the nose. This process of releasing out carbon dioxide is called as Exhalation. Lungs will expand during inhalation and contrast during exhalation. This whole process is known as Respiratory function.

The main sites in the lungs where cancer can get born include several parts of the lungs like cells lining the Bronchi, Bronchioles or Alveoli. According to the medical surveys, women are more affected with this disease than men. As per the survey of National Cancer Institute, every year 160,340 people are dying due to lung cancer in USA. According to World Health Organisation (WHO), 7.6 million people are dying globally per year because of lung cancer.

The symptoms of lung cancer are very slow and hard to recognise. This disease initially causes minor changes in the lungs. Then after that, the genes (DNA) present in the lungs will undergo some changes, which boost up the cancer cells to grow faster. At this stage, they won’t form any tumours or mass. As the cancer develops, they generate new chemicals in the lungs that cause to the growth of new cancer blood vessels. 

These newly formed blood vessels feed the cancer cells to grow stronger. A tumour is formed after cancer cells get enough strength. These tumours can be traced by X-Ray diagnosis. After these tumours grow stronger, it gets get detached from the walls of the lungs and spread to any other part of the body. Thus, the lung cancer is a dreadful disease which is highly impossible to eradicate completely.

There are two main types of lung cancers. They are:

1: Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) - This name is often given the small size cancer cells. About 15% percentage of lung cancer patients suffer from this kind of the disease. This cancer is also called as “Oat cell carcinoma”. It starts at the bronchi near the centre of the chest and spread into the body.

2: Non-Small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) – About 80% to 90% percentage of lung cancer patients suffer from this kind of disease. The three subtypes of this kind of lung cancer are;
Squamous cell carcinoma: About 30 % of the lung cancer patients are suffering from this type of disease. This is mainly caused because of squamous cells. They originate in the airways in the lungs and found middle of lungs, near bronchus.

Adenocarcinoma: About 40% of lung cancer patients are suffering from this kind of cancer. These cancer cells secrete mucus. These cells grow slowly than other kind of cancers and it is not recognised until it spread out of the lungs.

Large cell carcinoma (undifferentiated): About 15% percentage of lung cancer patients suffer from this kind of the disease. It is caused at any part of the lungs and grows at rapid speed, which makes it harder to treat. This disease is similar to small cell lung cancer.

Other lung tumours like adenoid cystic carcinoma, lymphomas, sarcomas, benign lung tumour like hematomas are very rare kind of lung cancers. These cancers have got the ability to spread to other organs like breast, pancreas, kidney and skin.

The basic symptoms of this disease are respiratory symptoms like coughing, coughing up with blood, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Systematic symptoms like weight loss, fever, clubbing of fingernails, fatigue, muscle weakness, chest pain, bones pain, superior vena cava obstruction and difficulty in swallowing. Due to the obstruction of air to pass to lungs during inhalation, it leads to Pneumonia.

Causes of lung cancer are smoking due to tobacco present in cigarettes, Radon gas which is released from radioactive radium, Uranium, asbestos, etc. To cure this disease, new researches are going on to eradicate cancer from its ground basis. At present advanced treatments like surgeries, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, palliative care treatments are in reach to everyone. Although there is no permanent way to prevent this diseases but a person can try to eat healthy diet comprising of fruits, vegetables as well as perform physical workout every day and most essentially stop smoking. There are different DE addiction centres available in locality where a smoker can gain full knowledge and counselling which will help in stopping this bad habit. 

The work out habit has been scientifically proved to be able to reduce the risk of having this diseases and an adult should definitely workout for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes weekly.  The dieting schedule should be such that a person get’s fat free foods and foods which are rich in fiber in order to prevent cancer.

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