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Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Causes

The primary factors that contribute to lung cancer (or cancer in general) are carcinogens (such as in cigarettes or tobaccos), ionizing radiation, and viral infection. Exposure to such agents leads to cumulative changes in the DNA, affecting the tissue lining and bronchi of the lungs. If more tissues are damaged, a cancer may eventually develop. Smoking cigarettes is definitely one of the major causes of lung cancer. Approximately 87% of documented cases in the United States were caused by smoking. There are over 60 identified carcinogens in cigarette smoke. In addition, nicotine, the addictive component of cigarettes, hinders the immune response to malignant formations in the exposed tissue. Individuals who quit smoking significantly decrease their risk of developing lung cancer. Over time, lung damage is repaired, and contaminants are removed from the affected areas.

Lung Cancer Definition

Lung cancer is an affliction characterized by uncontrolled cell growth in the tissues of the lung, which may ultimately lead to metastasis, invasion of adjacent tissues, and even infiltration in other parts of the body.

Lung Cancer Diagnosis

A chest x-ray is an initial diagnostic step in determining lung cancer. An x-ray may uncover a visible mass, atelectasis, mediastinum, or pleural effusion. If the x-ray does not reveal any indicative results but suspicion of cancer remains high, a bronchoscopy or a CT scan, both of which are often used to distinguish the type of tumor, may provide some insights.

Lung Cancer Symptoms and Signs

A shortness of breath (known as dyspnea), coughing up of blood (hemoptysis), chronic irregular coughing, wheezing, and chest or abdominal pains are early signs of lung cancer. Afflicted patients will also experience severe weight loss, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Dysphonia, or hoarsening of the voice, and dysphagia, or difficulty in swallowing, may occur. Rarely, clubbing of fingernails also appears. If the cancer develops in the airways, normal airflow may be obstructed, thus resulting in extreme breathing difficulties. Consequently, this can cause an accumulation of secretions behind the blockage, which may ultimately lead to pneumonia. If the surface of the cancer is fragile, it may bleed into the airway and subsequently coughed up as blood.

Lung Cancer Treatment

Treatment strategies for lung cancer patients depend on the specific cell type of the cancer, its extent and severity, as well as the patient's health. Common modes include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery to remove the intervening mass.

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