Lung Cancer is a disease causing uncontrolled cell growth in lung tissue, which the World Health Organisation estimates to be responsible for 1.3 million deaths worldwide every year. The five year survival rate of sufferers with treatment stands at only 15%, but this can be increased drastically with early diagnosis.
What are the Signs of Lung Cancer?
- Persistent Cough
Victims have a cough most of the time. When another affliction is causing a constant cough, lung cancer will cause it to become worse as the disease’s invasion of lung tissue progresses.
- Blood in Phlegm
One of the most noticeable symptoms of the cancer is hemoptysis, which is the appearance of blood in the phlegm (sputum) you cough.
- Pains when Breathing or Coughing
A common symptom of lung cancer is pain in the chest when breathing or coughing. This is typically first noticed when taking deep breaths, when sneezing or yawning for example.
- Non-specific Symptoms
Many cancers have common symptoms that effect many forms, including cancers of the lung. These include lose of appetite, weight loss, muscle weakness or fatigue. Psychological symptoms including anxiety and depression often appear.
Less Common Symptoms
These symptoms are also frequently observed in lung cancer sufferers, but are generally less frequent, or associated with a more advanced stage
- Difficulty swallowing or swelling of the neck (caused by enlarged lymph nodes)
- Finger Clubbing (changes in the shape and color of your fingers and nails)
- General discomfort or pain in the chest, in particular under your right side ribs
How is Lung Cancer Diagnosed?
As always, should you have any doubt you should consult your doctor. Diagnosis of Lung Cancer is painless and non evasive. The most common method used is a simple chest X-Ray, followed by a computerized axial tomography (CAT) scan. Where these methods are insufficient to confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy (collecting a sample of the cancer using a needle) is conducted under anaesthetic.
How is Lung Cancer Treated?
As with most cancers, treatment is generally conducted by chemotherapy, radiography or surgery, and most frequently a combination. A decision on which treatment to use is decided on a case by case basis, dependent upon the specific manifestation of the disease, the extent to which it has spread and the overall general health of the sufferer. Palliative treatment is also conducted in conjunction with these methods, which minimises the pain and suffering of victims throughout the process.