Lung Cancer Prevention: DETECT early signs & symptoms to seek treatment

Have you been noticing unusual wheezing and coughing that has persisted for months? It’s time to get screened for lung cancer.
Lung Cancer Prevention: DETECT early signs & symptoms to seek treatmentLung Cancer Prevention: DETECT early signs & symptoms to seek treatment
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As the name suggests, lung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. The most common type is non-small cell lung cancer or NSCLC. NSCLC makes up about 80 to 85 percent of all cases. Another 30 percent of cases begin in cells that line the passages of the respiratory tract and known as small-cell lung cancer or SCLC. There is also a rare subset of adenocarcinoma begins in the tiny air sacs in the lungs and is known as adenocarcinoma in situ (AIS).

Faster-growing types of NSCLC include large-cell carcinoma and large-cell neuroendocrine tumors. SCLC grows and spreads faster than NSCLC. This also makes it more likely to respond to chemotherapy. However, it’s also less likely to be cured with treatment. In some cases, lung cancer tumors contain both NSCLC and SCLC cells. Tumors in the lungs can grow quite large before you notice symptoms. Early symptoms mimic a cold or other common conditions, so most people don’t seek medical attention right away. Read on to learn about nine early lung cancer symptoms, and treatments you can seek.

Early symptoms of lung cancer

1. Persistent cough

Be on alert for a new cough that lingers. A cough associated with a cold or respiratory infection will go away in a week or two, but a persistent cough that lingers can be a symptom of lung cancer. Doesn’t matter if it’s dry or produces mucus, see your doctor right away. 

2. Difficulty in breathing

Shortness of breath or becoming easily winded are possible symptoms of lung cancer. Changes in breathing can occur if lung cancer blocks or narrows an airway, or if fluid from a lung tumor builds up in the chest. If you find it difficult to breathe after climbing stairs or performing tasks you once found easy, don’t ignore it.

3. Aching pain in the chest area

Lung cancer may produce pain in the chest, shoulders, or back. Tell your doctor if you notice any type of chest pain, whether it’s sharp, dull, constant, or intermittent.

4. Raspy, hoarse voice

If you notice a significant change in your voice, or if it suddenly sounds hoarse or raspy, consult your doctor. Hoarseness related to lung cancer can occur when the tumor affects the nerve that controls the larynx, or voice box.

 

What kind of early treatment can I seek?

1. Chest X-rays are not effective in detecting early stage lung cancer. However, low-dose CT scans have been shown to reduce lung cancer mortality by 20 percent.

2. Getting a surgery often helps as the surgeon works to remove the lung cancer and a margin of healthy tissue. 

3. For people with locally advanced lung cancer, radiation may be used before surgery or after surgery. It's often combined with chemotherapy treatments. If surgery isn't an option, combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be your primary treatment.

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