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Lung Cancer: Diagnosing it Early

Lung cancer is not something that anyone will look forward to; any type of cancer has its own challenges and lung cancer is no different. There are treatments that can reduce the symptoms and help patient to lead a relatively comfortable life, although this depends on how early these symptoms can be diagnosed and treated.

Lung cancer starts in the lungs. Your lungs, two spongy like organs in your chest, takes in oxygen when inhaling and releases carbon dioxide when exhaling. Lung cancer is the leading cancer that claims more lives a year than cancers like colon, prostate, ovarian and breasts cancer combined. But who do you know that you might have lung cancer?

There are a few symptoms that might indicate the existence of lung cancer. The survival rate from lung cancer is better the earlier it is diagnosed. The 60% to 80% 5-year survival rate with stage 1 lung cancer drops to a 10% with stage 4 disease .Look out for the following:

  • A persistent cough that does not go away
  • Changes in a chronic cough or “smoker’s cough”
  • Coughing up blood, even if it is a small amount
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Wheezing
  • Hoarseness
  • Any abnormal symptoms of a general decline in health
  • Repeated infections like Bronchitis and Pneumonia
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Bone pain
  • Headache
  • Pain or aching in your shoulder, back chest or arm

When these symptoms manifest, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible. The following risk factors must also be kept in mind:

  • Smoking. This remains the greatest risk factor for lung cancer. The risk of getting lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age can significantly lower your risk of developing lung cancer.
  • Exposure to second hand smoke. Even if you don’t smoke, your risk of lung cancer increases if you’re exposed to second hand smoke.
  • Exposure to asbestos and other chemicals.  Exposure at the workplace to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer such as arsenic, chromium and nickel, can also increase your risk of developing lung cancer, especially if you’re a smoker.
  • Family history of lung cancer. People with a parent, sibling or child with lung cancer have an increased risk of the disease.
  • Excessive alcohol use. Drinking more than a moderate amount of alcohol may increase your risk of lung cancer.
  • Certain smoking-related lung diseases. If you have a lung disease such as emphysema, the risk of getting lung cancer increases.

Lung cancer can be life threatening but you can definitely help to prevent it by cutting down on certain bad habits, and spending more time on being healthy and active. Along with a good diet, exercise, and other healthy choices, staying informed about the risks of lung and other cancers is key to prevention.

HealthLine.com is a popular resource that offers expert health advice from qualified professionals and experienced contributors.

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