The incidence of lung cancer increased dramatically during the 20th century as a direct result of the tobacco epidemic. In women, smoking prevalence and deaths from lung cancer continue to increase, and more women now die of lung cancer than breast cancer in the USA and the UK.
Once lung cancer advanced, it usually causes more noticeable
symptoms such as back pain, headache, weight loss, fatigue and so on. Bone pain is also common because that tends where lung cancer to spread first. although the majority of people diagnosed with lung cancer don’t experience obvious symptoms in its early stage before it spreads, some people may present with these early signs of lung cancer. However, these symptoms may be associated with many other conditions and are rarely signs of lung cancer. Still, it is important to be aware of unexplained changes or difficulty in breathing. So here is the list of 7 early signs of lung cancer.
This is the most common early symptom. It is often dry but secondary infection may cause purulent sputum. A change in the character of a smoker’s cough, particularly if associated with other new symptoms, should always raise suspicion of lung cancer.
2. Coughing out blood (haemoptysis)
Haemoptysis (coughing out blood) is common, especially with central bronchial tumours. Although it may be caused by bronchitis infection, haemoptysis in a smoker should always be investigated to exclude lung cancer. Occasionally, central tumours invade large vessels, causing sudden massive haemoptysis that may be fatal.
Breathlessness may be caused by collapse or pneumonia, or by tumor causing a large pleural effusion or compressing a phrenic nerve and leading to diaphragmatic paralysis.
4. Chest pain
If lung cancer is spread to the chest wall or chest cavity or caused swollen of lymph nodes in that area, it can cause aching pain In the chest, back and the tip of the shoulder. Chest pain that is caused by lung cancer tends to get worse when you cough, laugh or breathe deeply.
Because chest pain can be a sign of several serious conditions, it is important to consult the doctor. If you have any unexplained discomfort in chest or chest pain that persist for a long period need to be investigated. Or if you are experiencing any other symptoms of heart failure such as sudden severe compressive chest pain, sweating, nausea, shortness of breath- that required immediate medical attention.
5. Hoarseness or wheezing
Breathing issues that are associated with lung cancer that always does not present as shortness of breath. They might show something like hoarseness of the voice or wheezing. if you experience any persistence change in breathing please do have a medical visit once.
6. Weight loss and loss of appetite
Lung cancer patient always experiences with the loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss. Patients receiving chemotherapy may experience with these symptoms; nausea, vomiting, taste changes, or diarrhea, which contribute to weight loss. Psychological distress is also one of the main cause of weight loss in the lung cancer patient.
7. Feeling tired or weak
Everyone experience tiredness, but usually feelings go away after good night sleep. In the lung cancer patient, the feeling does not go away even after deep sleep or rest. It may be related to the spread of cancer or it can be also the side effect of the treatment. It may lead to difficulty in promoting the everyday task. It is due to stress, sleep problem, pain, depression or anxiety and many more. This is also one of the early signs of lung cancer.
Lung cancers arise from the bronchial epithelium or mucous glands. When the tumors occur in a large bronchus, symptoms arise early but tumors originating in a peripheral bronchus can grow very large without producing symptoms, resulting in delayed diagnosis. Peripheral squamous tumors may undergo central necrosis and cavitation and may resemble a lung abscess on X-ray. Lung cancer may involve the pleura directly or by the lymphatic spread and may extend into the chest wall, invading the intercoastal nerves or the brachial plexus and causing pain. Lymphatics spread to mediastinal and supraclavicular lymph nodes often occurs before diagnosis. Bloodborne metastases occur most commonly in liver, bone, brain, adrenals, and skin. Even a small primary tumor may cause widespread metastatic deposits and this is a particular characteristic of small-cell lung cancers.
The main aims of investigation are to confirm the diagnosis, establish the histological cell type and define the extent of the disease.
Lung cancer produces a range of appearances on chest X-ray, from lobar collapse to mass lesions, effusion or malignant rib destruction. CT should be performed early, as it may reveal mediastinal or metastatic spread and is helpful for planning biopsy procedures. E.g in establishing whether a tumour is accessible by bronchoscopy or percutaneous CT-guided biopsy.
Biopsy and histopathology
Surgical resection carries the best hope of long-term survival but some patients treated with radiotherapy and chemotherapy also achieve prolonged remission` or cure. In over 75% of cases, treatment with the aim of cure is not possible or is inappropriate due to extensive spread or comorbidity. Such patients are offered palliative therapy and best supportive care. Radiotherapy and, in some cases, chemotherapy can relieve symptoms
- Surgical treatment
- Laser therapy and stenting
- General aspects of management
The overall prognosis in lung cancer is very poor, 70% of patients dying within a year of diagnosis and only 6-8% surviving 5 years after diagnosis. The best prognosis is with well-differentiated squamous cell tumors that have not metastasized and are amenable to surgical resection.