Lung cancer is one of the most deadly forms of cancer and affects millions of Americans every year. Lung cancer is most often caused by cigarette smoking, but there are also other risk factors. Most people with lung cancer are forced to undergo extreme methods of treatment because it spreads so quickly from the lungs into other areas. Although lung cancer is deadly, there are many things that can be done to help prevent it. There are also several treatment options, which we will discuss in this article. Although lung cancer can be treated in all stages, the earlier that you find it the better off you will be. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms of lung cancer so you can see a doctor before it spreads too quickly.
The major symptoms of lung cancer are shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. You might also experience heavy bouts of coughing or of coughing up blood. If this happens to you, then you should see a doctor immediately, even if you think the issue stems from something else. Lung cancer can also cause wheezing or tightness in the chest, especially if it has spread far enough to block airways. Lastly, you might experience some weight loss, dizziness, or difficult speaking. These are symptoms that occur in later stages, meaning that the cancer has spread far enough to start infecting other bodily tissue.
The process for diagnosing lung cancer involves CT Scans and X-Rays, in order to look for obvious blockages or growths in the lungs or airways. A doctor will be able to spot lung cancer immediately, and then will advise you on your prognosis. The average 5 year prognosis for lung cancer patients is only about 14%. If a doctor suspects that someone is infected with lung cancer, they will perform a biopsy to be sure. A biopsy is a surgical procedure, albeit a small one, that removes a portion of the tissue to test for cancer cells. This will confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment for lung cancer involves radiation and chemotherapy, although surgery is an option. The problem with surgery is that removing a lung or parts of it will degrade a person’s ability to breathe, so surgery is done only when necessary. If the disease is caught early, then a combination of radiation and chemotherapy might be enough to keep it at bay. If the disease is in stage 3 or beyond, then surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation might be the only treatment options.
The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking completely. Many people don’t believe that smoking will give them lung cancer until it is too late, so do yourself a favor and quit before it happens to you. There are other risk factors, such as viral infection and radon exposure, but smoking cigarettes and tobacco products are the #1 way that people contract lung cancer. Lung cancer spreads very quickly, so it is important that you schedule regular doctors checkups if you are a smoker. Even if you decide to quit, you are still at a greater risk for cancer for years, if not the rest of your life.
There are some experimental medications used to help treat cancer, but many of them are still undergoing clinical trials and patients can only use them if they sign up to be part of the trial. Although it can be risky using these medications, if your cancer is beyond the scope of traditional treatment then this might be an option to consider. If you are curious about prescription drugs or clinical trials, then your doctor is the best person to ask.