Many believes that lung cancer is exclusively a disease of smokers, because it is known that smoking significantly increases the risk. And although this is so, not only amateurs are prone to this disease. And the number of people with lung cancer, who were not smokers, is growing.
According to the latest data, 20% out of 2170 patients with lung cancer of those who never smoked in their life increased twice between 2008 and 2016.
While smoking remains the main risk factor for the development of this form of cancer, there are other reasons. “You may be at risk for lung cancer and not even suspect it,” says Raja Flores, head of the thoracic surgery department at Mount Sinai Hospital. Radon, asbestos and passive smoking – these causes can threaten lung cancer even to those who have never smoked.
It is important to know if you are at risk and know the symptoms of the disease, although they usually appear when the cancer is at a progressive stage and it is much more difficult to treat it. It can be cured, and the sooner it is found, the better.
Of course, coughing is the surest sign, and for that there is a reason: this symptom is present in 65% of lung cancer. Worse, if cough is accompanied by expectoration of blood or phlegm of rusty color. In this cough can be caused by a number of very different, much less serious reasons.
We will talk about the additional 6 symptoms of cancer, which are worth knowing about …
Whistling breath can be caused by the overlap of the airways formed by the tumor.
In the chest, many nerve endings, so growing into these tissues, cancer can cause quite a sharp pain. It can worsen when coughing, breathing and laughing. At the same time, chest pain can also be associated with muscle tension due to coughing, and not pointing to cancer.
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A harsh, low or weak voice can also be a symptom of lung cancer. Between the trachea and the esophagus under the aorta is a guttural nerve, which provides sensitivity to the larynx, as well as the vocal cords. Pressure on this nerve can lead to disruption of their work.
Difficulty in breathing can indicate a blockage – for example a tumor – that prevents air from entering the lungs. It can also be a sign of fluid accumulation between the lungs and the chest wall. This fluid can press on the lungs and also make it difficult to fill them with air.
Frequent cases of pneumonia can be an alarm bell, indicating a serious problem. When the cancer blocks the small airways in the lungs, there is an ideal environment for the multiplication of bacteria leading to infection.
Omission of eyes, swelling, weight gain
Lung cancer can also cause symptoms not associated with the lungs. A tumor in the upper part of the lung can press on the nerves that lead to the eyes and face, which will lead to eyelid drooping, a decrease in the size of the pupils or excessive sweating on one side of the face. This is called Horner’s syndrome.
A tumor that presses on the upper vena cava can lead to blood clumping. As a result, swollen face, throat, hands and upper chest, which is also accompanied by headaches and dizziness. Some types of lung cancer also secrete hormone-like substances that affect other organs. This can lead to a sudden set of weight, fatigue and gynecomastia – an increase in mammary glands in men. It occurs, according to statistics, in only 2% of cases.
What if you suspect lung cancer?
If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a month, it is worth checking. You may need a CT scan or bronchoscopy.
But do not be in a hurry to panic! In most cases, the cause of these symptoms is not cancer. And the younger you are, the more likely the cause is not so serious: whistling can be caused by asthma, hoarseness – acid reflux. By the way, 91% of cases of lung cancer are diagnosed in people older than 55 years.
So do not be afraid to pass the test. Most likely, the cause of the symptoms is not cancer, and if it is then a timely check will only increase your chances of successful treatment.