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Early Signs of Lung Cancer

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.

early-signs-of-lung-cancer

Lung Cancer Statistics

Lung cancer is expected to increase by 38% to 2.89 million people worldwide by 2030. This cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer at 1.74 million people. The estimation for lung cancer in the United States in 2020 is approximately 228,820 new cases (112,520 women and 116,300 men).

Lung cancer was rare prior to the use of mechanical cigarette rollers. Smoking causes 9 out of 10 lung cancer deaths. Radon gas, pollution and other cancer causing chemicals play a much smaller role. Prolonged exposure to secondhand smoke is also a possible cause.

early-signs-of-lung-cancer

Lung Anatomy

We inhale air through the trachea into the lungs. There are tubular branches that are called bronchi. The bronchi are divided into smaller branches called bronchioles, which end in microscopic air sacs called alveoli. Oxygen is then absorbed into the blood. We exhale carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of metabolism.

The airways are lined with cilia (tiny hairs). The cilia protects the lungs as they sweep out bacteria, any toxin and viruses. Smoking stops the cilia from protecting your lungs. Then, cancer-causing chemicals build up over time.

Lung Cancer Warning Signs

Lung cancer begins quietly, and there are typically no symptoms in the very early stages. As the cancer progresses the symptoms you may notice include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, especially with deep breaths
  • Coughing up bloody phlegm
  • Fatigue
  • Hoarseness
  • Weight loss without trying
  • Headache
  • Bone pain

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lung Cancer?

Types of Lung Cancer

There are different types of lung cancers, which are diagnosed by their appearance using a microscope. Non-small cell lung cancer is more common, and it spreads more slowly than small cell cancer. Small cell cancer is less common, accounting for 15% of all lung cancers. It grows rapidly, and it is often advanced when it is diagnosed.

There are three main typesof lung cancer, including:

  • Adenocarcinoma - growth begins near the periphery of the lung, varying in size and growth rate, plus it is the most common type
  • Squamous cell carcinoma - tumor growth usually begins near the center of the chest in one of the larger breathing tubes, and the tumor may be very small to large
  • Large cell carcinoma - growth begins near the periphery of the lung and grows rapidly, which is typically advanced when diagnosed
early-signs-of-lung-cancer

Diagnoses and Treatments

The physician may order a chest x ray or cat scan. If you have a cough a sputum specimen will be ordered. If these tests show any abnormality a biopsy will probably be ordered also. Treatment depends on the extent of the cancer.

If cancer has been diagnosed the doctor will order a staging test to see if the cancer has spread beyond your lungs. That will be a cat scan, MRI, PET (positron emission tomography) and a bone scan. If you are between ages 55-80 and have been a heavy smoker it is a good idea to get a cat scan every year.

Treatment is based on the stage of the cancer (0, I, II, III, IV), your overall health and your lung function. More than one type of treatment may be used.

Treatments for small cell lung cancer includes:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Surgery
  • Palliative Procedures

Treatment for non-small cell lung cancer includes:

  • Surgery
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Targeted drug therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Palliative Procedures

It is important to discuss all the possible treatments with your doctor along with the possible side effects. Getting a second opinion is also a good idea.

Treatment and Management of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC)

Risk Factors

Obviously smoking is a big risk factor for lung cancer. Other risk factors for lung cancer include:

  • Secondhand smoke exposure
  • Prior radiation therapy
  • Exposure to radon gas
  • Asbestos exposure and other carcinogens
  • A family history of lung cancer

Prevention includes not smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, and carcinogens while working. Eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. Regular exercise is helpful.

In Conclusion

Treatment for lung cancer is stressful, but it may make you feel good to know you may be cured. Your doctor will watch you carefully after treatment during follow up appointments. Side effects from the treatment may reside within a few days or over a long period of time. Report any new symptoms immediately to your doctor as the cancer could return.

Millions of dollars are being spent on lung cancer research across the globe. The Kimmel Cancer Center at John Hopkins Hospital has found immunotherapy to be helpful in reducing death by 10-60%. They found the use of multiple therapies is very effective. Mayo Clinic is also doing a vast amount of research. We can hope that these advancements will save lives.

I am not a doctor, but a retired RN. I have researched this topic thoroughly to present the most recent information.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Pamela Oglesby

Comments

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2020:

That is very good news, Gyanendra

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on December 07, 2020:

Your article was a timely one for me. And I do believe that I will get rid of it by next 6 months. Thank Pamela.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 07, 2020:

Hi Linda,

I grew up with second-hand smoke, although my parents did quit. We simply did not know the dangers back then. I appreciate your wonderful comments, as always LInda. Have a wonderful week.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 06, 2020:

Pamela, I used to think that lung cancer was a punishment for those who smoked. Then, I read a biography by the widow of Christopher Reeve; Dana died from lung cancer just a year after his passing. She had never smoked in her life, but was a singer and so probably encountered a great deal of second-hand smoke in bars and nightclubs (back then smoking was permitted indoors).

Thank you for explaining this dread disease. Your articles are always so informative and arranged well. You make complicated medical issues easy to understand.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Glen,

I think pulmonary hypertension is more related to his heart, but obviously he needs some medical tests.

However, I so think it is good for anyone to know the early symptoms of lung cancer. I hope your friend will be okay.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week, Glen.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Ankita,

I agree, as early treatment saves lives. Lung cancer is a dreadful disease. Thank you for your comments. I hope you have a wonderful week.

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on December 06, 2020:

This is a well-documented article based on your research as an RN, Pamela. I have a friend who has pulmonary hypertension. He learned he had a problem when we were on a hike one day, and he couldn’t keep up with me. He was out of breath and thought he might be developing lung cancer, so I told him to see his doctor. I’ll share your article with him too, since it’s very educational on the subject.

Ankita B on December 06, 2020:

A very helpful and informative article. It is really important that people know about the early symptoms of this dreadful disease. Thank you for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Gyanendra,

It is wonderful that your cancer was found early so it could be treated. I am happy for you. Thank you for your comments.

gyanendra mocktan from Kathmandu,Nepal on December 06, 2020:

I had been hospitalised on 7th of August. My MRI report showed the sign of initial stage lung cancer. I am 100% free from it. Slowly the dead cells are disappearing. Thank you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi John,

I am sorry to hear about your family members. I have never smoked either. I grew up with second hand smoke, but people just didn't know any better. My parents did quit smoking, thank gooodness.

I appreciate your comments. Stay healthy!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Rosina,

I agree with you. All cancers are horrible and it helps to know the early symptoms.

I appreciate your comments. Have a wonderful week!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Flourish,

I fully agree about the statistics. I am sorry to hear about your grandfather. I have never smoked either, although I had friends that smoked when I was young.

Thank you for commenting. Have a wonderkful week. Stay safe and healthy!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Linda,

I know this is hardly a cheerful topic, but it is important to know the facts.

I appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Chitrangada,

I agree that any cancer is scary, and they are all more treatable when caught early. There is a lot of research ongoing, than goodness.

Thank you for your generous comments. Stay safe and healthy!

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi Alyssa,

Lung cancer as with any cancer is best treated when it is caught early. I appreciate your comments.

Stay healthy and safe.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2020:

Hi MG,

That's true but secondhand smoke is not good either. Thanks so much for commenting. Have a good week.

Rosina S Khan on December 05, 2020:

This sure is a helpful and informative article about lung cancer. I hope those reading it will become more aware of the dreadful disease. Thank you, Pamela, for sharing.

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 05, 2020:

My great grandfather died of lung cancer and I recall how excruciating it was for him. I’m glad things have improved. Having worked fir a cigarette manufacturer I have also seen coworkers get cancer although I have never smoked myself. The statistics are clear. Do not use tobacco products if you want to remain healthy.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on December 05, 2020:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and research about this disease. It's important that people know about the facts that you've included in the article.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 05, 2020:

A well explained and informative article about lung cancer, it’s causes, symptoms, and treatment. I believe, early detection may help, because there are certain treatments available.

The mention of the term cancer, is itself scary. I just hope and pray, that no one gets this dreadful disease. There is still lot to be done, in finding a total cure of this disease.

Thank you for sharing another wonderful and well researched article. It will surely help many people, and spread awareness.

Alyssa from Ohio on December 05, 2020:

Cancer in any form is scary. It's uplifting to know there are several treatment options available for lung cancer and that it's possible to beat it. An interesting and informative read Pamela! Thank you!

MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 05, 2020:

Thus is a nice article. Lung cancer is usually associated with smokers.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 05, 2020:

A very good article about the early signs of lung cancer, Pamela. My grandmother died from it and both my parents died from lung and heart problems. All were smokers for a large part of their life. Fortunately I have never smoked, although I realise passive smoking is also a risk factor. Thank you for sharing.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I am sorry to hear about your family members. You are definitely the healthy one.

I understand about when to comment. Sometimes I can find an article in my feed and sometimes they simply aren't there. I was encouraged at the last email from the Hubpage bosses that they are aware of the situation and working on it. Thanks so much for your weekend comment. :) Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Manatita,

There are so many good hospitals and MD Anderson is among them. I hop your sister did not have any serious illness.

Thank you for your comments, as always. God bless you.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Peggy,

Thank goodness we know more about some of the causes of lung cancer. I was happy to see so much research happening. Any cancer diagnoses is certainly scary.

Thank you for your generous comments. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Cheryl,

Thank you for such thoughtful comments. I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Brenda, I love your poems and I hope you enjoy the Christmas season too.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 05, 2020:

I normally don't comment on weekends, but I fear if I don't do it now, with this one, it will disappear into the bowels of HP, never to be seen again. :) Great information, as always. My mother died of lung cancer, as did my sister and brother-in-law. Heavy smokers all of them. Anyway, your information if right on and presented well, Pamela.

Have a great weekend!

manatita44 from london on December 05, 2020:

Handled a difficult subject extremely well. MD Anderson in Houston deserves a plug. I hear they're awesome and that's where my sister is treated. Thanks for covering all these factors. Peace.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 05, 2020:

Now that people are aware of the risks of smoking, it is a shame that some people continue to do it. Some of the other risk factors are harder to avoid. The diagnosis of cancer is always scary. Progress continues to be made concerning treatments, which is a good thing.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on December 05, 2020:

Thank you for this detailed information. Your years as a nurse are a blessing to people

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Sp,

I know anyone would be scared if they received this diagnoses. I hate to hear that more people are being diagnosed.

I appreciate your comments. Stay safe and healthy!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on December 05, 2020:

Pamela,

Thank you. I appreciate you worrying about me too.

I do need to focus on myself also.

Enjoy this Christmas season.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Bill,

I'm sure it was awful watching him suffer. I wrote this article primarily to list the symptoms as catching it early makes a recovery possible.

I apreciate your nice comments. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Devika,

There is a great deal of research happening now. I hope they get some answers. Thank you so much for commenting. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on December 05, 2020:

I didnt even know that there were three types of cancer. More people here are also getting diagnosed with thid type of cancer. It's a very scary thing to get diagnosed with.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on December 05, 2020:

Great info on this terrible disease, Pam. My grandfather died from lung cancer. He worked in a tire factory and was exposed to asbestos probably before they knew the hazards of it. It was painful to watch him suffer. Everyone needs to be aware of the symptoms so they can get diagnosed and treated early. Great job.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on December 05, 2020:

Pamela99 Cancer has been researched but certain types have been ignored.Here you explain in detail about Lung cancer. It is such an important health issue and you give us the facts.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Liz,

I guess people did not know the risks of cancer years ago. Both of my parents smoked, but they did quit, thank goodness. I appreciate your comments.

Stay healthy and safe.

Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2020:

Hi Brenda,

There is a lot of information in the internet about this awful cancer, especially at Mayo Clinic and John Hopkins. I hope this article helps in some way. I knew you were in the battle but I don't think I knew what stage. I pray the treatment will cure the cancer.

Thank you for your comments.

Take care of yourself too, Brenda. Stay healthy.

Liz Westwood from UK on December 05, 2020:

This is an interesting and helpful article. Many years ago a celebrity musician died of lung cancer after playing the cornet in smokey clubs in his younger days. He was a non-smoker.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on December 05, 2020:

Pamela,

Thanks for writing this article.

We are battling stage 4 lung cancer at the moment.

I have saved this article to read the resources you listed later.

He is taking chemotherapy along with immunotherapy. Hoping for the best.

Have a great day.