The key symptom of lung cancer is a persistent cough that gradually gets worse. Other symptoms include: shortness of breath drop in ability to exercise persistent chest pain persistent cough or coughing up blood loss of appetite, weight loss and general fatigue At present there is no effective screening test for lung cancer. If you are worried that you have lung cancer, your doctor may order a chest X-ray, which allows doctors to look out for shadowy areas on the lungs. Sometimes a more detailed series of x-rays, called a CT scan, is ordered. In many cases, this will be followed by a bronchoscopy or mediastinoscopy, which means that a thin flexible telescope is put down the airways of your lungs, after which a biopsy of any suspicious area is performed. Causes Most lung cancer cases are caused by smoking cigarettes.
Even passive smoking can cause a problem, and the longer period over which the patient smokes, the higher the risks. Breathing in other carcinogens in the workplace, for example asbestos, can also trigger cancer. Some people seem to be genetically pre-disposed to developing lung cancer, and medical checks in smokers may in future look for these key genes to work out how likely lung cancer is. Treatments Treatment depends on the type of lung cancer and the state or extent of the disease. There are two types of lung cancer, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC). The names simply describe the type of cell found in the tumours.
In NSCLC, the tumour is often located in the outside part of the lung, away from the centre, and if it has not spread, it may be possible to remove it by surgery. However, overall less than a fifth of all NSCLC patients are suitable for surgery. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy will also be considered in many cases. Unfortunately, NSCLC is hard to cure, and in many cases, the treatment given will be to prolong life as far as possible – and relieve symptoms.