Basic Information on Lung Cancer, Causes and Symptoms

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Tumors interfere with the main function of the lung which is to provide oxygen to the body through the bloodstream and to get rid of carbon dioxide from the body. Tumors can be benign or malignant. A benign tumor is not life-threatening unlike a malignant tumor which grows aggressively, invading other tissues of the body by spreading through the bloodstream and lymphatic system. This process of spread is termed metastasis.

Causes of Lung Cancer

Smoking of tobacco is the primary cause of lung cancer and accounts for 90% of lung cancer cases. A person who smokes two or more packs of cigarettes a day has a high risk of developing lung cancer – 30 to 40 times higher than a non-smoker. Research has shown that tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemical compounds, many of which are carcinogenic. Carcinogens are a class of substances that damage DNA and aid in development of cancer.

Passive smoking or second-hand smoking is another risk factor for development of lung cancer. This is where a person inhales smoke from another person who smokes. This usually happens with people who share a room either at home or in the workplace.

Radon gas is another cause of lung cancer. Radon gas is a radioactive gas (chemically inert gas, a decay product of uranium). It is an odorless gas that can pass through soil and get trapped in houses and buildings. Other causes of lung cancer are chemicals such as asbestos and arsenic; radiation such as gamma and x-rays; the sun and car exhaust fumes.

Recent studies have shown that people whose diet consists of few or no fruits and vegetables are more likely to develop lung cancer.

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Symptoms of Lung Cancer

Symptoms of lung cancer vary and depend on the site of the body where cancer has grown, where it has spread to and the size of the tumor. The symptoms do not appear in the early stages of the disease. The following are the symptoms of lung cancer:

  • persistent cough
  • chest/shoulder pain
  • difficulty in breathing and swallowing
  • swelling in the neck and face
  • hoarse voice
  • thickening of the tips of the fingers
  • weight loss
  • fatigue
  • pneumonia
  • coughing up blood
  • pain in joints or bones
  • headache
  • seizure

It is a fact that lung cancer is one of the most common cancers all over the world. If people who are addicted to cigarette smoking quit the habit, there would be a reduction of development of cancer and eventually the person would return to a healthy state. According to studies done on lung cancer, it was found that the disease is common in men. In the case of women, as from the year 1987, more have died each year of lung cancer than breast cancer.

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