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What Are The First Signs Of Lung Cancer

24 July 2021

According to recent studies, lung cancer is the most common cancer in the world. It is the second most common cancer among men and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths (among men) in our country. While smoking is one of the major risk factors for the development of lung cancer, non-smokers and passive smokers are also known to develop the condition. The two main types of lung cancer are small cell lung cancer (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Lung cancer often goes unreported in the early stages making treatment more difficult as it tends to spread to other parts of the body as the disease progresses. This makes it very important to understand lung cancer symptoms and treatment options.

Early Signs of Lung Cancer

Many patients do not exhibit significant signs and symptoms of lung cancer during the early stages. There may be some warning signs, though. These include –

  • A persistent cough that does not go away in a week or two. It is important to contact a doctor if a cough lingers beyond a fortnight or gets progressively worse. The cough may or may not be accompanied by phlegm. Bloody phlegm is a definite warning sign.

  • Lung cancer is often accompanied by shortness of breath or a change in breathing patterns (wheezing etc.). If you are a smoker and are out of breath quite easily, it is important to consult a doctor.

  • Look out for pain in the chest region. This may be intermittent and dull or even sharp and constant but any pain in the chest region must be assessed by a medical practitioner. The pain could become worse when you laugh, cough, or even take a deep breath.

  • Persistent hoarseness or change of voice is another warning sign that must not be ignored, particularly if you are a smoker. If a malignant tumour of the lung affects the nerves connected to the larynx, it may cause hoarseness of the voice.

  • Like all other types of cancer, extreme weakness and fatigue are also warning signs of lung cancer. This is often accompanied by unusual weight loss and lack of appetite.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Diagnosis of lung cancer is achieved by a combination of diagnostic procedures such as X-ray, CT scans, and MRI. In some cases, a lung biopsy may also be necessary. A small amount of lung tissue is removed and examined under a microscope. A biopsy may be performed through a bronchoscopy, liquid biopsy, or needle biopsy.

Some of the standard treatment options recommended for lung cancer include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Prevention of lung cancer is much easier, given the complications of the treatment. If you are a regular smoker, it is best to seek a doctor’s help in quitting. Reducing exposure to second-hand smoke and high levels of pollution helps too.

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