Docstoc

lung cancer symptoms (DOC)

Document Sample
lung cancer symptoms (DOC) Powered By Docstoc
					Lung cancer symptoms is important to know, why? Because lung cancer is one of the
most dangerous types of cancer because it tends to spread to body organs at an early
stage. For this reason, being aware of common lung cancer symptoms is essential -
early detection significantly improves chances of survival.

Lung cancer originates from abnormalities in the basic unit of the body - the cell. In the
normal state, cells divide and reproduce according to need. This is brought about by a
system of checks and balances built into the organism.

Sometimes, however, this orderly system is disrupted and cells divide and proliferate in
an uncontrolled manner. They form an abnormal mass referred to as a tumor. Although
not all tumors are malignant, those that give rise to lung cancer symptoms are.

Tumors that are benign usually do not pose a threat and can be removed without
spreading to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors, like those of lung cancer,
multiply and spread aggressively. They tend to move to other - often distant - parts of
the body, in a process called metastasis.

Lung cancer, in particular, tends to metastasize or spread at an early stage. This makes
it difficult to treat and it is one of the most life-threatening cancers around. The
malignancy can spread to practically any part of the body. However, certain organs are
more prone to being affected - they include the liver, adrenal glands, bone and the
brain.

This tendency to metastasize rapidly makes it imperative that lung cancer be detected
as early as possible. Hence it is critical to be aware of common lung cancer symptoms.

Here is some of what you must watch out for. Remember, this is not a comprehensive
list and is only indicative of the many lung cancer symptoms found in a wide cross
section of patients.
    Swelling in the facial and neck region
    A persistent chough that does not respond to treatment
    Blood in sputum / spit with a brownish tinge
    Pain in the chest region
    Sudden, significant drop in weight that isn't the result of dieting or exercise
    Shortness of breath
    Inexplicable fatigue
    Recurring bouts of pneumonia, bronchitis and other such infections
    Change in voice quality / hoarseness that persists
    Fever that occurs for no apparent cause
    Loss of appetite

Having one or more of these symptoms of lung cancer does not always indicate the
presence of the disease. There are many other health conditions that can cause these
symptoms.
However, if some of these signs are present, it is necessary to consult a doctor so that
he can investigate further.

When the disease spreads to other parts of the body, it can give rise to other lung
cancer symptoms. Examples include bones that fracture too easily, persistent /
recurrent headaches, formation of blood clots, bleeding, pain in some area of the body,
etc. Some symptoms may not be apparent till the disease has progressed to become
stage 4 lung cancer.

Early detection is critically important to improve the chances of curing lung cancer. In
patients where the cancer has already advanced, detection can still help to prolong life
and improve its quality.

Lung cancer symptoms can be caused by various factors. Smoking heads the list of
causes. An estimated nine out of ten cases of lung cancer would never have developed
if the patient did not smoke. That is a shocking statistic.

Asbestos exposure is another known risk factor. Researchers have found that asbestos
workers are fully seven times more likely to develop lung cancer as compared to the
general population. Other risk factors include exposure to toxic chemicals, heavily
polluted air in big cities, lung inflammation, etc. Having a family history of lung cancer
also increases the risk of a person developing the disease.

The presence of any of these lung cancer symptoms is sufficient reason to consult a
doctor as soon as possible.