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Signs and symptoms of Lung Cancer

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   3 min     


Lung Cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in women and men throughout the world. Cancer occurs when normal cells undergo a transformation that causes them to grow abnormally and multiply without control and potentially spread to other parts of the body. Lungs have very rich network of blood vessels and lymphatic channels through which cancer can spread. Tumors can spread to nearby organs and lymph nodes and the process of spreading is called as metastasis.

When it metastasizes, the tumor in the lung is called the primary tumor and the tumor in the other parts of the body are called secondary or metastatic tumors. They can be characterized by their cell size and type. They are called Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) and Non-small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC).

The most common type of lung cancer is Adenocarcinoma. It has a sub-type which is called bronchoalveolar cell carcinoma, it creates a pneumonia-like appearance on chest X-rays. The second most common type of lung cancer is Squamous cell Carcinoma which makes up about 30% of all cases.

Causes of Lung Cancer

In the 1950s it was clearly established by researchers that the leading cause of lung cancer is cigarette smoking. Cigarette contains more than 4000 chemicals, 73 of which have identified as causing cancer such as benzo[a]pyrene NNK, 1, 3-butadiene and a radioactive isotope of polonium, polonium-210. About 90% of lung cancer arises due to tobacco use.

Other factors which are responsible for Lung Cancer are:

  • Prolonged exposure to pollution can also cause lung cancer.
  • Asbestos, it is a type of naturally occurring silicate material which can cause lung cancer.
  • Tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease also create a risk for lung cancer.
  • Radon exposure also causes lung cancer.

Symptoms of Lung Cancer

  • Symptoms of primary Lung Cancer include:
  • A cough
  • Hemoptysis (Coughing up blood)
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing or hoarseness
  • Bronchitis or pneumonia

     Symptoms of metastatic lung cancer:

          Symptoms of this depend on the location and size.

  • It spreads to the liver, the adrenal glands, the bones, and the brain.
  • In liver, it may result in loss of appetite, feeling full early on while eating, and weight loss.
  • In adrenal glands, it does not show any symptom.
  • In bones, it causes bone pain, usually in the backbone, bones of the thigh, the pelvic bones, and the ribs.
  • In the brain, it can cause difficulties with vision, weakness, and seizures.


By using the stethoscope, doctors sometimes can hear fluid around the lungs, which may suggest lung cancer. But properly diagnosing lung cancer involves a combination of several tests which include:

  • X-rays, Positron Emission Tomography (PET), CT scans and MRI scans of the chest.
  • Sputum test to check coughing-induced phlegm for abnormal cells.
  • Biopsy: Taking a sample of tissue to identify abnormal cells.
  • Bronchoscopy: The bronchi are viewed through an instrument called a bronchoscope.
  • Mediastinoscopy: A lighted tube is inserted above the breastbone through a small incision to see the center of the chest cavity.


Treatment of lung cancer depends on several factors, such as the type of cancer, the stage of cancer, the size of cells, and the overall health of the patient. Combination of therapies is used to treat lung cancer.

  • Surgery: Tumor is removed from the lung and it is generally performed for the limited stage of lung cancer when cancer has not spread beyond the lung.
  • Radiation Therapy: It uses high energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells.
  • Brachytherapy: The small pellet of radioactive material placed directly into cancer or into the airway next to cancer.
  • Chemotherapy: It is defined as the administration of drugs that stops the growth of cancer cells by killing them or preventing them from dividing. It may be given as pills, as an intravenous infusion, or as a combination of two.
  • Targeted Therapy:  It involves the administration of drugs that have been identified to work in subsets of patients whose tumors have specific genetic changes that promote tumor growth.
  • Immunotherapy: It works by strengthening the activity of the immune system against tumor cells.
Tags:  cancer,

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