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A Guide to Lung Cancer

A major cause of cancer deaths in the recent times is attributed to lung cancer. This is so in both men and women. It was with the introduction of mechanical cigarette rollers, that an increase in lung cancer was observed. So it is clear that smoking is the leading cause for lung cancer.  Dangerous gases, pollution and other causes have a smaller role when compared to smoking.

What does smoking do?

Each cigarette is packed with deadly cancer causing chemicals. The human airways are lined with tiny hairs called cilia. The toxins, bacteria and viruses that try to enter the air passage is swept away by the cilia and expelled. Smoking actually inhibits the cilia from carrying out its function, this lets the cancer causing harmful substance into the air passage and finally the lungs thus causing cancer.

Symptoms of lung cancer

When lung cancer begins it does not usually cause any symptoms or warning signs. But as the cancer gets worse more and more symptoms appear. The symptoms can be anything from a persistent cough to chest pain during breathing, wheezing or shortness of breath, blood in the phlegm and constant fatigue.

How is it diagnosed?

Complaint of a long lasting cough or wheezing will make your doctor examine further by asking for a chest X-ray or advanced imaging test depending on the seriousness of the case. A sputum test also is advised along with few specialised blood tests. Based on the result of these tests the doctor will be able to find out if you are suffering from cancer. To confirm the same there may be a need to do a detailed biopsy.

What are the types of lung cancer?

There are mainly two type of lung cancer, the small-cell lung cancer and the non-small cell lung cancer. The non-cell lung cancer is the one that progresses slowly and which is more common. The small-cell lung cancer is more aggressive and spreads quickly to other parts of the body at a very early stage itself. The small-cell lung cancer is mainly caused due to cigarette smoking and mostly does not affect non-smokers.

What is the early treatment?

For any type of cancer, early detection gives some hope for cure. Similarly when doctors find non-small-cell lung cancer at an early stage that is before it spreads from one lung to the other they suggest an operation to contain the cancer.  A part of the lung or depending on the severity the entire lung itself is removed. A course of radiation or chemotherapy is given to destroy any remaining cancer cells. In the case of small-cell lung cancer, surgery does not help because it would have already spread to the other lung and body organs.

What are the other risks?

Apart from smoking, pollution and dangerous gases like radon some other causes can also lead to lung cancer. They include a family history of lung cancer or drinking water with high arsenic content in it. Lung cancer is seen to affect women more than men and also many times non-smokers.

How to prevent lung cancer?

We can conclude that avoiding smoking or inhaling smoke from other people can to a great extent help prevent lung cancer. It is always better to quit smoking before any signs of cancer appears. Try avoiding pollution and exposure to dangerous gases during daily travel and at workplace which can also protect you from cancer.

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