As the name suggests, liver cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the lungs. It is the fifth most commonly occurring disease in men and the ninth most commonly occurring cancer in women. Nearly 9 million new cases of lung cancer have already been registered in the year of 2018, 50% of which have been diagnosed at their advanced stage – meaning the survival rate of these patients is next to negligible. Believe it or not, lung cancer claims more lives than any other known chronic cancer including, prostate, ovarian, colon and breast cancer.
People who smoke on a regular basis are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer. Though, individuals who do not smoke can also get the disease. The risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes one smokes. Quitting smoking, after smoking cigarettes for many years, can reduce one’s chances of developing lung cancer.
Types of lung cancer
Lung cancer is typically divided into two primary types, typically on the basis of its appearance. Each type has its own implications, complications and treatment method.
The two primary types of lung cancer are as follows:
- Small cell lung cancer – This type of cancer is more common amid heavy smokers, and less common in general.
- Non-small cell lung cancer – Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of cancer that affects most of the people. It is an umbrella term in itself. Meaning, Non-small cell lung cancer can be further divided into three types:
- squamous cell carcinoma,
- adenocarcinoma and,
- large cell carcinoma
Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Lung cancer does not showcase any prominent sign of its existence, especially at an early stage. Many individuals go undiagnosed until the disease reaches an advanced stage.
Below mentioned nine common lung cancer signs and symptoms every individual must watch out for.
- Cough that Won’t Go Away
Cough that persists for more than two weeks at a stretch can be a prominent sign of lung cancer. Usually cough is associated with a cold or respiratory infection, which goes away in a week or two. But, if it stays, it’s a matter of concern. Seek the assistance of a physician, ask him/her to monitor your condition and even conduct necessary tests which can confirm and/or eliminate lung cancer.
- Change in Cough
Paying utmost attention to any changes in your chronic cough, especially if you smoke, is highly important. This is because, if you are coughing more than often, it sounds hoarse, or if you are coughing out blood or excessive amount of mucus, it means you’re at a risk of developing lung cancer.
- Change in Breathing Pattern
Experiencing shortness of breath or becoming easily winded also make for possible signs and symptoms of lung cancer. A change in one’s breathing pattern usually occurs when lung cancer blocks or narrows airways, or if lung tumor fluid accumulates in the chest area.
Oncologists state that individuals must notice when they feel short of breath or winded. If you feel out of breath even after climbing a couple of stairs or performing rather easy tasks, don’t ignore these signs. Get tested against lung cancer immediately.
- Pain in the Chest Area
Lung cancer causes pain to develop in the chest along with the shoulders and back area. An aching feeling cannot be due to simply coughing. Seek the assistance of your physician when you witness chest pain, especially if it is sharp, consistent and severe.
At the same time, you must also note the areas of pain – whether it’s confined to a particular region or occurring throughout the chest area. Usually, lung cancer causes chest pain which is a result of enlarged lymph nodes or metastasis present in the lining of the lungs.
Lungs produce a wheezing or whistling sound when its airways inflame, become constricted or block. Wheezing can be linked to a multitude of medical conditions, some of which are benign and easily treatable in nature.
However, wheezing is also a prominent sign and symptom of lung cancer. This is precisely the reason why, getting screened for lung cancer becomes all the more important. At the same time, do not assume that wheezing is a cause of asthma or an allergic reaction.
- Hoarse Voice
If you witness a significant change in your voice – it is deeper, hoarse, or raspier than usual, it’s time to get examined. Usually, hoarseness can be associated with a simple cold. But, this symptom can point to a more serious condition, especially if it persists for more than two weeks at a stretch.
- Unexpected Weight Loss
Unexpected loss of weight, typically more than 10 pounds in a matter of days, can be a prominent sign of lung cancer or any other type of cancer. This is because, cancer cells utilize the body’s energy to rapidly multiply, resulting in sudden, unexplained loss of weight.
- Pain in the bones
Lung cancer, which has spread to the bones, can produce shooting pain in the back and other parts of the body. This pain usually worsens at night and majorly rests on the back. The kind and severity of pain make it difficult to differentiate between bone and muscle pain. Bone pain, as compared to muscle pain, often worsen at night and grows with movement.
Furthermore, lung cancer is mostly associated with arm, neck and shoulder pain, which apparently are less common. Pay more attention to your aches and pains, and discuss them with your physician.
- Shooting Headache
Last but not the least, headaches too can be a prominent symptom of lung cancer, typically the one which has spread to the brain. However, not all headaches mean brain metastases. Sometimes, lung tumors can create pressure on the superior vena cava that may trigger a headache.
The Bottom Line
Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer across the globe. While anyone can get cancer, the chances of people who actively smoke or are exposed to passive smoking are higher than others. Looking out for prominent signs of lung cancer can significantly improve one’s chances of getting treated at an early stage and leading a healthy life.