Being familiar with the symptoms of lung cancer can help you get it diagnosed and treated in the quickest manner possible and avoid confusing it with some other lung condition. This is essential to ensuring that your odds of beating it are as high as they can be and that you don't have to experience the devastating symptoms that can occur when lung cancer remains untreated over an extended period of time.
Symptoms You Can Spot Yourself
The most common symptoms that somebody with a lung malignancy may see include:
• Aches & Pains
The main cause of this is that the disease has started spreading (also called metastasis) to the bones, which in turn applies pressure on the nerves. Common areas that become affected by this symptom include the back, chest area, hips, and shoulders.
• An Above Normal Temperature for a Prolonged Amount of Time
Having a fever for an extended amount of time can be a sign that something's wrong and warrants a visit to the doctor. Not ignoring this will help the cause be revealed before it has a chance to worsen.
• Constantly Being Tired & Easily Worn Out
Having the feeling of being fatigued is a common symptom of not just this, but many cancers. This is, however, one condition that can be particularly physically draining.
• Coughing Up Blood
Any blood that's coughed up could be a danger sign that calls for immediate medical attention.
• Difficulty Breathing
Often when the tumor progresses to the breathing passages of the body, one will experience an increased amount of trouble maintaining proper breathing patterns. Anytime this this symptom arises, one should call their doctor for professional medical advice.
• Failing to Feel a Need to Eat
Hunger isn't uncommon with lung cancer and it's actually the primary cause of weight loss among those suffering from this condition. If you notice a decreased appetite that becomes unmanageable you need to seek out treatment options as this is a very unhealthy sign.
• Hot & Cold Flashes
Having moments where you get hot and cold more easily than usual is actually considered to be one of the early symptoms of cancer of the lungs. Catching it in this stage comes with the best chances of defeating it for good.
• Migraine Headaches
Migraines occur for a variety of reasons, but those who have a developing or burgeoning lung tumor seem to report it quite a bit more often than others. Your doctor will be able to find out if lung cancer is a cause of the migraines or if it's being caused by something else that's easier to treat.
• Waking Up With Night Sweats
Waking up in the middle of the night sweating on a frequent basis is another early symptom of lung cancer that can be looked for. This is caused by experiencing a hot flash while asleep and is an effect that lung cancer causes.
How Lung Cancer Is Diagnosed
Diagnosis varies depending on which stage the cancer is currently in. However, the most common ways that lung cancer diagnosis is made include:
There are many forms of biopsy that are used to diagnose malignancies. These range from the needle biopsy to more extensive biopsies. The general idea is to extract a piece of the tumor so that it can be examined for cancerous cells, metastasizing propensity or whether it isn't a non-malignant tumor.
This is a method that's performed by putting a probe in the body via the nose or throat. It's used to locate and extract a piece of the lung tumor so that it can be tested.
The chest x-ray is the default diagnostic tool used to check for lung abnormalities; it provides a quick snapshot of the state of the patient's lungs and allows masses to be easily observed.
For finding lung tumors, this is a scan that's performed on the lungs with the patient lying on a table and entering a tunnel of sorts. This is a more precise diagnostic tool as it provides a more detailed look at the lungs and can detect smaller masses than x-ray may have missed.
This is another robust diagnostic employed by medical professionals and lung specialists. The procedure parallels CT scan but the level of specificity in the test is quite a bit different. MRIs have the ability to detect even the slightest of structural changes in the body.
Dealing With Lung Cancer Emotionally
The best way to deal with any serious illness on an emotional level is to develop a support network and consider the opportunity to participate in a support group (which is typically offered locally as well as online) to remind you that you're not alone. Having a strong support network will make living with any disease a lot easier and more bearable while considering your options and undergoing various treatments.
How to Fight The Good Fight
If you want the odds to be on your side, make sure that you stay educated about your disease and seek professional medical consultation from a wide variety of specialists. Oncology is a rapidly changing and developing field and many treatments have only been around a few years. Many pioneers of breakthrough and incredibly efficacious treatments for a huge list of diseases conduct research and practice all over the country...get in touch with them! It's also important to be your own shining light throughout this trepidacious journey and read your butt off. Dive into the medical literature, go on PubMed and do your homework because nobody is as interested in your own health and well being as YOU!
Stay Open To New Opportunities
It's important for us to remember that there are many great opportunities being brought in to help more people than ever have the chance to win the fight against cancer. This is why it's critical to seek out the best treatment centers (Mayo Clinic comes to mind) and informational resources as they will both be able to tell you a lot about the more subtle symptoms of lung cancer and the newer treatment methods that may be available to you in your own country, state or even city.
Alex is a featured author on the Lung Cancer Information Center at http://www.symptoms-of-lung-cancer.org/ and researches and writes about various lung abnormalities to help inform people to make smart decisions for their health.