What Are the Symptoms of Lung Cancer
Patients with lung cancer are often asymptomatic and have no symptoms, which can be detected by a cat scan taken by chance on a chess X-ray or for some other reason. So one of the things that confuses lung cancer so much is that it often does not show symptoms and can often cause dog pain and it can be a dry cough. It can be a sore throat or a cough. Cancer can cause weight loss or pain anywhere, but most often lung cancer is not a symptom.
Eastern India has the maximum number of lung cancer patients. You will also be surprised that two important cities in eastern India- Imphal in Manipur and Aizawl in Mizoram are the cities where most numbers of lung cancer patients are found. As a result, it is important for us to know about lung cancer. Smoking is an important cause of lung cancer. Other than that, research reveals that environmental pollution is also increasing. Lung cancer doesn’t only affect men. Along with men, incidents of lung cancer in women is also increasing. There is another important thing happening due to the increase of lung cancer, since we are not conscious of it, so, the disease reaches an advanced stage where it is not possible to perform surgery.
Yet, it is good to know that among all types of treatment of lung cancer, surgery is the best and most successful. Patients may live longer if the surgery is done and become free from the disease. So, let me tell you about lung cancer surgery. The tumor has to be removed If there is any gland nearby, it needs to be cleaned There are two types of surgery. One is the conventional one, that requires cutting the chest. with an incision of 25-30 cm. Another one that we do it here while following international recommendations. We make an incision of 4-5 cm and remove the big tumor. So, the patient has less chest painless bleeding, goes home early, and, overall, the patient benefits. These are a few important things to keep in mind about lung cancer.
The most common symptoms of lung cancer are having a cough that often lasts for more than three weeks, coughing up blood, feeling breathless while having severe pain in the chest. In addition, sometimes patients with lung cancer have a loss of appetite and because of this, can also lose a considerable amount of weight. It is important to know however that it is perfectly possible to have lung cancer without any symptoms at all. In the UK, approximately 85% of cases of lung cancer are directly linked to exposure to tobacco. So smoking is still unfortunately one of the commonest causes of lung cancer.
In addition, exposure to dust such as asbestos and in particular the gas radon also predisposes to lung cancer. What was increasingly recognizing however is that people who have never smoked or have no obvious exposure to either asbestos or radon are also developing lung cancer. And this proportion of patients who have never smoked in developing lung cancer appears to be increasing. Unfortunately in my clinical practice, far too often I hear that lung cancer is a death sentence. This is very much not the case with modern treatments. If we’re able to detect lung cancer early enough, we can offer treatments such as surgery and high doses of radiotherapy which have been shown to cure lung cancer in the majority of patients.
The key however is detecting the disease at a stage that is early enough for those treatments to be applied. In the UK, it’s very common for patients to have a CT scan carried out of their neck, chest, and upper abdomen as an initial investigation. They will then commonly see a respiratory specialist like myself who would take a history from the patient to clarify what their risk factors may be for lung cancer and importantly to learn about their symptoms and also their wishes as a patient. We would then as the next step want to carry out a biopsy test. This will tell us exactly first of all whether it is lung cancer and secondly if it is lung cancer, what type of lung cancer it may be. We may then want to do a third test which would be a PET CT scan which may help to clarify the extent to which cancer has spread if at all.
Once we have all of this information together including the extent to which cancer has spread along with the type of cancer was dealing with, it is then important to sit down and discuss the treatment options with the patient. The endobronchial ultrasound or EBUS has become a very important procedure for the diagnosis and staging of lung cancer. It is now routinely performed to obtain biopsies on patients in the UK and worldwide for diagnosing lung cancer. The procedure itself is relatively straightforward. It is done in an outpatient setting with the patient receiving an injection as a sedative. This means that they are very calm and relaxed but still easily rousable. A spray is usually applied to the back of the throat to make the throat numb and then a small telescope is introduced via the mouth into the lungs. This is not a painful procedure.
There is coughing involved but this is mitigated by the operator using local anesthetic. Once the telescope is inside the lungs, the operator is able to take an ultrasound probe and have a close look at all lymph nodes within the center of the chest. Once they have identified an area that they wish to sample, under the direct vision of the ultrasound, they’re able to take biopsies from the lymph nodes within the center of the chest. A procedure will take typically 30-40 minutes and is generally well-tolerated. The patient would then recover for an hour or two within the hospital unit before being discharged home. The results from the procedure are generally extremely good. And we would expect a positive answer from at least 9 out of 10 procedures