Find Out About The Diagnosis, Symptoms And Risk Of Lung Cancer

Find out about the diagnosis, symptoms and risk of lung cancer

Lungs are functioned to inhale oxygen from the atmosphere and transfer it into the bloodstream and to release the carbon dioxide out of the body. Lungs are made of different types of cells and most of these cells are called the epithelial cells. Other cells apart from the epithelial cells include blood cells, nerve cells, structural cells, and hormone-producing cells. These cells line the airways present in the lungs and form mucus that lubricates and protects the lungs. All these cells have a normal growth and death cycle. Lung cancer occurs when there are specific mutations in the lung cells. Mutations affect the natural life cycle of the lung cells resulting in an unhealthy and abnormal increase in them. The abnormally multiplying cells form a mass commonly known as a tumor. When tumor cells invade normal tissues, it is called lung cancer.

How is lung cancer diagnosed?
Lung cancer is diagnosed using many different tests. These tests determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. The diagnosis also helps in deciding the right type of treatment for the cancer. Below is more information on how doctors diagnose lung cancer.

  • Biopsy: For a definitive diagnosis of lung cancer, doctors perform a biopsy using the microscope. It is a microscopic examination of a small sample of tissues that are removed from the lungs.
  • Medical history: Doctors look at the medical history of the patient that helps them with their diagnosis. It helps them understand the risk factors of lung cancer in the patient. Medical history shows the past or current illnesses, family history of lung cancer (if any), and environmental exposures that may have increased the risk of lung cancer in the patient.
  • Laboratory tests: These tests include blood tests and sputum cytology. Though blood tests don’t diagnose lung cancer, they are used to examine the overall health of a patient and functioning of all the organs, including the lungs. If doctors suspect lung cancer, they perform sputum cytology. Doctors examine the patient’s phlegm under a microscope to locate cancer cells in the mucus. In most cases, doctors find insufficient cells to make a concrete diagnosis through other tests and hence sputum cytology helps the doctors with the diagnosis.
  • Imaging tests: Chest X-rays, Computed Tomography (CT or CAT scan), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan), Positron Emission Tomography (PET scan), and bone scan are the different imaging tests used to check for the presence of cancerous cells in the lung. Imaging tests don’t give a definitive diagnosis; however, these tests can help the doctors provide a lot of essential information that helps with the diagnosis.

What are the signs of lung cancer?
It is common for people to miss the early signs and symptoms of lung cancer as most lung cancers do not have any symptoms until they reach a higher stage. Some people get an early diagnosis when they suspect some signs and symptoms of lung cancer at the right time. Following are the signs and symptoms of lung cancer that you should know about.

  • Consistent cough that gets worse with time
  • Coughing up blood or rust-colored phlegm
  • Chest pain while coughing, deep breathing, or laughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Falling short of breath
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Recurring bronchitis or pneumonia
  • Wheezing

The symptoms of lung cancer when it spreads to other organs are:

  • Back pain or pain in the hips
  • Headache, weakness, numbness in the arms or legs, dizziness, problems in balancing, seizures
  • Jaundice (when cancer spreads to the liver)

Who is at risk?
Below are the ones who have high risk of being diagnosed with lung cancer.

  • Active smokers and passive smokers
  • People who are exposed to asbestos, nickel, chromium, and arsenic because of their occupation
  • People who are exposed to air pollution
  • People with a family history of lung cancer
  • People with a medical history of lung disease such as, pneumonia, and chronic obstructive disease (COPD)
  • People who are exposed to radiation

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