Lung cancer holds the dubious distinction of causing more deaths than just about any other type of cancer. But like all other cancer types, it has the best potential to be effectively treated if it is diagnosed in the early stages of the disease. So it is vital that men and women pay close attention to the important lung cancer symptoms in order to help to identify the early stages of this devastating disease.
Lung cancer strikes both men and women and tends to develop in people who are between 45 to 70 years of age. Lung cancer is a type of disease where cancer cells grow in the tissues of the lungs. The disease may have started there or it could be the result of another type of cancer which spread to the lungs.
It has been found and confirmed by many scientific studies that people who smoke have a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer than non-smokers. However non-smokers can develop the disease as well. Age, diet, lifestyle and family history can all increase the risk of someone eventually developing the disease. This disease may have minimal symptoms in the early stages. However there are some telltale signs so the following should be noted:
- Chronic or persistent cough which does not go away
- Coughing up blood
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Hoarse voice
- Fatigue and weakness
- Unexpected weight loss
- A loss of appetite
- Unusual swelling of the neck or face
- Respiratory infections like pneumonia or bronchitis
- Unusual growth in the fingernails or toenails
- Pain or swelling in the joints
- Pain in the bones
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor and get it checked out. It is also very important to receive regular medical screening and checkups. It was found that about 25% of all lung cancer cases are diagnosed during a routine X-ray. Up to that point, the patients reported no discernable symptoms of lung cancer.
There are a number of ways to diagnose lung cancer but a chest x-ray is probably the most common and effective method. If there appears to be evidence of a tumor in the lungs, more tests are usually ordered. This can include MRI and other imaging tests. In addition a biopsy of the infected tissue is almost always performed in order to assess the presence of cancer cells.
If the cancer is caught in the early stages, then surgical techniques may be used to remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. Or if the cancer cannot be reached with surgical techniques, then other kinds of treatments such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be applied to kill the cancer cells and shrink the tumors.
If the cancer has spread from other parts of the body or if it has spread to other parts of the body, it is usually much more difficult to pursue treatment which can cure the cancer. Rather the primary emphasis is on controlling the disease and its progression of the cancer. If the growth of the cancer can be stopped or reversed somewhat, it can bring a better of life to the patient. The goal is to extend the life of the lung cancer patient for as long as possible.