One type of cancer that starts in the lungs is lung cancer. The lungs are two flexible organs located in the chest that allow you to breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.
The leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide is lung cancer.
Lung cancer can affect persons who have never smoked, but smokers are at a higher risk than nonsmokers. The quantity and frequency of cigarettes you’ve smoked are related to your chance of developing lung cancer. Even after years of smoking, you can greatly lower your risk of developing lung cancer by quitting.
Lung cancer usually does not cause signs and symptoms in its initial stages. The signs and symptoms of lung cancer typically manifest when the disease is advanced.
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer may include:
- a persistent cough that just started
- spitting out blood, even a little bit of it
- breathing difficulty
- chest pain
- shedding pounds without trying
- a bone ache
When to see a doctor
If you are concerned about any persistent signs or symptoms, schedule a visit with your doctor.
Make an appointment with your physician if you smoke and have tried unsuccessfully to stop. Your doctor may suggest methods to help you stop smoking, including counseling, medications, and nicotine replacement aids.
The majority of lung cancers are caused by smoking, in both smokers and those who are exposed to secondhand smoke. However, nonsmokers and those who have never been exposed to secondhand smoke for an extended period of time are also susceptible to lung cancer. There may not be a clear cause of lung cancer in these situations.
How smoking causes lung cancer
According to doctors, smoking harms the cells that coat the lungs, which in turn promotes lung cancer. The lung tissue changes practically immediately after inhaling cigarette smoke, which is loaded of cancer-causing agents (carcinogens).
Your body might be able to repair this harm initially. However, the healthy cells that lining your lungs suffer increased harm with each subsequent exposure. Damage over time results in aberrant cell behavior, which may eventually lead to the development of cancer.
Types of lung cancer
Based on how lung cancer cells look under a microscope, doctors classify the disease into two main categories. Depending on the primary form of lung cancer you have, your doctor will decide how to proceed with treatment.
The following are the two primary types of lung cancer:
- Small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer occurs almost exclusively in heavy smokers and is less common than non-small cell lung cancer.
- Non-small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is an umbrella term for several types of lung cancers. Non-small cell lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
There are a number of factors that could affect your likelihood of getting lung cancer. You can reduce some risk factors, like smoking, by giving it up. Additionally, some circumstances, like your family history, are outside of your control.
Lung cancer risk factors include:
Smoking : The quantity of cigarettes you smoke each day and the length of time you have been smoking both raise your risk of developing lung cancer. You can dramatically reduce your risk of lung cancer by quitting at any age.
Exposure to secondhand smoke : Even if you don’t smoke, being around secondhand smoke raises your risk of developing lung cancer.
Previous radiation therapy : You may be at a higher risk of developing lung cancer if you’ve had chest radiation therapy for another type of cancer.
Exposure to radon gas : The natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water results in the production of radon, which eventually finds its way into the air you breathe. Radon can build up to unsafe levels in any structure, including dwellings.
Exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens : Your risk of developing lung cancer can increase if you work with asbestos and other cancer-causing agents like arsenic, chromium, and nickel, especially if you smoke.
Family history of lung cancer : Lung cancer risk is higher in people who have a parent, sibling, or child who has the disease.
Lung cancer can cause complications, such as:
- Shortness of breath : If lung cancer spreads to the main airways, the patient may develop breathing difficulties. Additionally, fluid can build up around the lungs as a result of lung cancer, making it more difficult for the affected lung to fully inflate during inhalation.
- Coughing up blood : Blood can be coughed up due to hemorrhage caused by lung cancer in the airways (hemoptysis). In some cases, bleeding might get really bad. Bleeding can be controlled using some medications.
- Pain : Pain can result from advanced lung cancer that has spread to the lung’s lining or to another part of the body, including the bone. If you have pain, let your doctor know because there are various therapies available to reduce it.
- Fluid in the chest : Fluid can build up around the damaged lung in the chest cavity as a result of lung cancer . Breathlessness may result from fluid building up in the chest. Treatments are available to remove the fluid from your chest and lessen the likelihood that pleural effusion will occur again.
- spreading cancer that affects several different parts of the body : Bones and the brain are two common sites where lung cancer spreads (metastasizes).Depending on the organ involved, cancer that spreads can result in discomfort, motion sickness, headaches, or other signs and symptoms. Lung cancer is typically incurable once it has left the lungs. There are treatments that lessen the symptoms and help you live longer.
Although there is no guaranteed way to prevent lung cancer, you can lower your risk by:
- Avoid smoking : Never start smoking if you haven’t already. Talk to your kids about quitting so they can learn how to avoid this significant lung cancer risk factor. Talk to your kids about the risks of smoking when they are young so they will be prepared to handle peer pressure.
- Give up smoking : Quit smoking right away. Even if you’ve been a smoker for a long time, quitting lowers your chance of lung cancer. Consult your doctor for advice on effective methods and cessation assistance. Options include drugs, support groups, and nicotine replacement therapies.
- Don’t smoke around others : Encourage a smoker to stop if you live or work with them. Ask them to smoke outside, at the very least. Don’t go to places where people smoke, including pubs and restaurants, and look for smoke-free places to go instead.
- Check for radon in your house : Check your home’s radon levels, especially if you reside in a region where radon is known to be an issue. You can lower your home’s radon levels to make it safer. Contact your neighborhood’s public health department or an American Lung Association branch for more about radon testing in your area.
- Stay away from carcinogens at work : Take care to shield yourself from workplace exposure to hazardous chemicals. Observe the safety recommendations of your workplace. Wear a face mask that has been provided to you as protection, for instance, at all times. What else can you do to safeguard yourself at work? Ask your doctor. If you smoke, you run a higher chance of developing lung cancer from your job’s toxins.
- Eat a lot of fruits and veggies in your diet : Pick a balanced diet that includes a range of fruits and vegetables. Vitamins and nutrients are best obtained from food sources. Vitamins taken as pills should not be used in high dosages since they may be dangerous. For instance, researchers gave beta carotene supplements to heavy smokers in an effort to lower their risk of lung cancer. According to the findings, supplements actually raised smokers’ risk of developing cancer.
- Try to work out most days of the week : Start slowly if you don’t routinely exercise. On most days of the week, try to exercise.