Lung cancer may not produce any noticeable symptoms in the early stages. In approximately 40 percent of people diagnosed with lung cancer, the diagnosis is made after the disease has advanced. In one-third of those diagnosed, the cancer has reached stage 3.
Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women worldwide. Cigarette smoking is the principal risk factor for development of lung cancer. Passive exposure to tobacco smoke also can cause lung cancer.
The two types of lung cancer, which grow and spread differently, are small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). The stage of lung cancer refers to the extent to which the cancer has spread in the body.
Signs and symptoms of lung cancer
Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms until they have spread, but some people with early lung cancer do have symptoms. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed at an earlier stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective. The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:
- A cough that does not go away or gets worse
- Coughing up blood or rust-colored sputum (spit or phlegm)
- Chest pain that is often worse with deep breathing, coughing, or laughing
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling tired or weak
- Infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia that don’t go away or keep coming back
- New onset of wheezing
If lung cancer spreads to distant organs, it may cause:
- Bone pain (like pain in the back or hips)
- Nervous system changes (such as headache, weakness or numbness of an arm or leg, dizziness, balance problems, or seizures), from cancer spread to the brain or spinal cord
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), from cancer spread to the liver
- Lumps near the surface of the body, due to cancer spreading to the skin or to lymph nodes (collections of immune system cells), such as those in the neck or above the collarbone
Most of these symptoms are more likely to be caused by something other than lung cancer. Still, if you have any of these problems, it’s important to see your doctor right away so the cause can be found and treated, if needed.
Small cell lung cancer is mostly treated with chemotherapy. Surgery is not usually suitable because this type of cancer has normally spread at the time of diagnosis. You may also have radiotherapy. Non- small cell lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a combination of these. One can also take supplements in addition to the treatment their getting to speed up the healing process. Some supplements even work faster than the other treatments.