Lung Cancer (Overview, Symptoms, Types, Diagnosing, Causes and Treatment)

Overview

The lungs are the spongy organs positioned on both sides of the chest. Three lobes are present on the right lungs, whereas two lobes are present on the left. Bronchioles are the branches divided into many sac-like structures known as alveoli. During the inhalation process of respiration, air enters the lungs through the trachea to the lower lungs (bronchioles), where oxygen is released and supplied to the blood. When you exhale, the byproduct of cells, i.e., carbon dioxide, is removed from the body.

Lung cancer is a condition of the uncontrollable division of cells in the lungs. Due to this, tumors are developed that interfere with the vital process of respiration. In the USA, lung cancer and its types are the most prevalent type of cancer that counts for almost 25% of deaths caused by cancer. American Cancer Society predicted 228,820 lung cancer cases in 2020. Smokers are at higher risk of this disease.

Lung cancer is categorized into two types – non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). Treatment options can include immunotherapy, targeted therapy, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy depending upon the type and stage of cancer. In this article, you will learn about the symptoms, causes, types, diagnosis and treatment of lung cancer.

1Early Symptoms Of Lung cancer

Usually, there are no symptoms visible in the initial stages of lung cancer. Signs and symptoms occur at the advanced stages. Symptoms also depend on the location of the tumor.

Initial symptoms may include:

  • Cough (Can be dry or productive cough)
  • Pneumonia
  • bronchitis
  • Reduction in body weight
  • Chest pain
  • Breathless
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Respiratory infections

As we discuss earlier, symptoms also depend on the location of the tumor. Metastasis of lung tumor to other body organs can present symptoms such as:

  • Spinal cord or brain: cause numbness or balance problems, dizziness, or headache.
  • Liver: cause jaundice or yellowing of eyes and skin.
  • Lymph nodes: that cause the formation of lumps in the collarbone or neck.
  • Bones: causing pain in the hips, ribs, or back.

Tumors formed at the top of the lungs can cause the Horner syndrome that includes symptoms like:

  • Reduction in pupil size
  • Shoulder pain
  • Drooping of eyelids
  • Lack of perspiration on the face

The tumors can secrete a hormone that causes the paraneoplastic syndrome. Its symptoms may include:

  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • High blood sugar
  • High blood pressure
  • Fluid retention
  • Coma
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle weakness
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