Our lungs are often taken for granted. They keep us alive and well, and we rarely think about their health. One of the most prevalent malignancies and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide is lung cancer. It develops when abnormal cells proliferate and multiply uncontrollably
Beyond your lungs, lung cancer can affect other organs. Once a tumour has developed in your lung, cancer cells may separate and create new tumours close by, or if cancer cells get into your bloodstream or lymphatic system, they may spread to other regions of your body. It first just has an impact on the respiratory system and lungs. Depending on where the cancer spreads, there are several other symptoms.
Lung cancer can have a variety of effects on your body such as:
- Respiratory system – You can initially have a few respiratory problems. Bronchitis or pneumonia flare-ups on a regular basis may indicate lung cancer. You might experience other changes in your voice. A persistent or recurrent cough could develop. Strong coughing might cause mucus to form. Mucus might change colour or contain blood as the illness worsens. Chest and throat pain might be caused by a persistent coughing. When you breathe or cough, your chest pain could get worse. Breathlessness is a common sign of advanced lung cancer. Breathing may cause you to wheeze or hear other sounds. Breathing becomes increasingly challenging as malignant tumours grow to obstruct your airways. Fluid can collect around the lungs in some cases. When this occurs, your lungs are unable to fully expand when you breathe in. Breathing difficulties might result from even light exercise.
- Circulatory and cardiovascular system – Lung cancerous cells have the potential to enter the bloodstream. One method that cancer spreads from the lungs to other organs is through the circulatory system. You have a higher risk of blood clots if you have lung cancer. Pulmonary embolism refers to a blood clot that enters the lung. It could be a life-threatening situation. Although it doesn’t happen frequently, lung cancer can spread to the pericardial sac or the heart. The tissue that encircles the heart is called the pericardial sac. Heart damage may be obvious right away, but it may not be discovered for years.
- Central nervous system – If cancer spreads to the brain, you might experience headaches and other neurological signs and symptoms. Memory issues, vision changes, dizziness, seizures, limb numbness, limb weakness, an unsteady walk, and balance issues can all be a result of brain tumours.
- Muscular and skeletal system – Bone and muscle discomfort, weaker bones, and an elevated risk of fracture can result from cancer that has spread to the bones.
Immunotherapy – New treatment option
There are currently modern and innovative cancer treatment options available. One such therapeutic approach is immunotherapy. Immunotherapy enhances your body’s immune response to cancer cells, in contrast to conventional treatments like chemotherapy that directly kill tumour cells. An advanced type of cancer treatment, immunotherapy medications boost your immune system’s ability to combat cancer. These medications support your immune system, making them more targeted than traditional cancer treatments.
Although lung cancer can be fatal, those who obtain an early diagnosis have a fair chance of surviving. Individuals who are at high risk of developing lung cancer may benefit from regular screening. This can assist in identifying the early warning signals and enable therapy prior to the cancer spreading.
The author is an Oncology & Consultant Surgical Oncology, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, Mumbai