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Lung cancer: Overview, causes and symptoms

Last updated on : 16 May, 2024

Read time : 6 min

What about Lung cancer?

Lung cancer is known as bronchial carcinoma. A major percentage of lung tumours are carcinomas, cancer that majorly occur in skins, tissue, or lining of the internal organs and form tumours. The uncontrolled cell growth in the tissue of the lung is characteristic of cancer developing in the lung.

As a result of abnormal cell development and death, cancer in the lung is formed when normal lung cells mutate, altering their typical growth and death cycle and producing too many cells. Normal lung cell functions are not carried out by these rapidly dividing cells, nor is healthy lung tissue formed as a result. 

Usually lung cancer early symptoms have no indications. As lung tumours progress, so do the symptoms. The following are some of the most prevalent symptoms: A persistent cough that is worsening. A cough lasting more than two or three weeks is a common indication of a lung tumour. Chest pain that worsens when you breathe, cough, or laugh. Coughing up blood or blood-tinged or rust-coloured sputum is Hemoptysis.

Causes of lung cancer

  • Smoking is the primary cause of lung tumours, although the disease can also affect persons who have never smoked.
  • Smoking- Cancer in the lung is most often brought on by long-term cigarette smoking. More than 70% of the time, it’s to blame.
  • Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 hazardous chemicals, many of which are known to cause cancer (cancer-producing).
  • Lung tumours are 25 times more likely to strike a smoker than a nonsmoker if they puff away at least 25 cigarettes a day.
  • Tobacco items that aren’t cigarettes, such as chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes, can also raise your chance of developing cancers like the oesophagal and mouth.

Eg: Pipe tobacco, cigars, and snuff, snorting (a powdered form of tobacco), and Tobacco chewing.

  • An increase in lung cancer risk has been related to smoking cannabis. Causes of lung tumors are seen most in people who smoke marijuana and mix it with a cigarette product. Tobacco-free smokers inhale deeper and hold the smoke in their lungs for a longer period than those who use normal cigarettes.
  • Even 4 joints (fabricated cigarettes composed of tobacco and cannabis) may cause as much damage to the lungs as smoking 20 cigarettes.
  • Even if you don’t smoke it with tobacco, it could still be harmful. This is due to the fact that cannabis contains cancer-causing chemicals.
  • As a bystander, causes of lung tumours can be seen in an individual even though they do not smoke. one can inhale the smoke- If you don’t smoke, regular exposure to other people’s tobacco smoke (passive smoking) can raise your risk of lung cancer.
  • Workplace pollution and exposure- It is possible to get lung tumours as a result of being exposed to certain chemicals and substances used in a variety of industries and activities. The compounds and chemicals included in the list of causes of lung cancer are arsenic, asbestos, beryllium, cadmium,  air pollution from the combustion of coal and coke, silica, and nickel.

Early-stage Lung tumours signs and symptoms

Signs of lung cancer

1. A persistent cough- A normal cough, cold or respiratory infection should go away within a week or two. If you have a chronic cough or one that alters in intensity or duration it could be a sign of lung cancer. 

2. Changes in breathing or wheezing- Additionally, shortness of breath or a tendency to get fatigued may be signs of lung cancer. If a lung tumour stops or narrows an airway, or if fluid from a lung tumour accumulates in the chest, breathing may be affected. A whistling or wheezing sound may be heard when you inhale when your airways are constricting, clogged, or inflamed. This can be caused by several different things, some of which are harmless and can be treated easily.

3. Pain in the body- Coughing isn’t always the cause of a sore throat. Pain in the chest, shoulders, or back may be a symptom. Any form of chest pain, sharp, dull, continuous, or intermittent should be reported to your doctor. It’s also a good idea to take note of whether the pain is localised or if it’s widespread.  Lymph nodes enlarging or metastasis to the pleural lining, the chest wall or the ribs can cause chest pain in patients with lung cancer. As a result of a lung tumour that has spread to the bones, you may experience back or body pain. Even a small amount of movement might cause severe bone pain.

4. Hoarse, raspy tone- When hoarseness persists after a cold, it may be a sign of something more serious. When a tumour in the larynx, or voice box, affects the nerve that regulates the larynx, hoarseness can result.

5. Weight loss without a known cause- In the presence of cancer, this decrease in weight may be a result of the cancer cells’ increased energy use. Alternatively, it could be due to a change in the body’s ability to utilise the energy in food.

Make an appointment with a doctor if you notice an increase in your cough frequency, a deeper or hoarse sound to your cough, or if you cough up blood or an unusual volume of mucus. If you notice any of these symptoms in a family member or acquaintance, encourage them to see a doctor.

Lung cancer symptoms

Lung tumours are distinguished as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). SCLC is a rarer kind of cancer than NSCLC, but it is also more deadly.

Also Read-Cardiovascular disease- Signs and symptoms of an unhealthy heart

Here are a few lung cancer symptoms that can help you detect the type and causes of the lung tumour.

However, if cancer develops outside of your lung or to other organs, you may experience any or all of the following in the case of small cell lung cancer.

  • Thick, red mucus
  • wheezing or lack of breath
  • a tightening in the middle of the chest
  • Coughing that won’t go away
  • inability to eat
  • puffiness of the face

A lung tumour that has spread to other organs, such as the bones or the brain, is considered advanced. The following are possible signs of advanced lung tumour, i.e non-small cell lung cancer:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing that won’t stop
  • inability to eat

Symptoms such as fractures in the bones or vision problems in the brain may indicate that the lung tumour has metastasized to other organs.

Approximately 75% of persons diagnosed with lung cancer have advanced to stage 3 or 4. Receiving a low-dose CT screening could be a life-saving strategy. Cancer affecting lungs is a terrible disease, but new, more effective treatments are being developed on a daily basis.

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Our healthcare experts have carefully reviewed and compiled the information presented here to ensure accuracy and trustworthiness. It is important to note that this information serves as a general overview of the topic and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, or cure any health problem. This page does not establish a doctor-patient relationship, nor does it replace the advice or consultation of a registered medical practitioner. We recommend seeking guidance from your registered medical practitioner for any questions or concerns regarding your medical condition.


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