Lung cancer develops when the cells in your lungs – the two spongy organs in your chest – divide uncontrollably. The cancer usually spreads to surrounding areas, such as the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small glands that filter lymph, the clear fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system.
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Symptoms of lung cancer usually appear once the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
When this happens, the body often undergoes noticeable changes.
The main warning signs can appear in your cough.
According to the NHS, there are four telltale signs in your cough to look for:
- A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks
- A long-standing cough that gets worse
- Coughing up blood
- An ache or pain when breathing or coughing
These symptoms may not be due to cancer but it is important to get them checked by a doctor.
As Cancer Research UK notes, is also a symptom of coronavirus.
“It is still important to contact your GP if you have a new or worsening cough,” says the charity.
The GP can speak to you over the phone or by a video call and arrange for tests if you need them, it says.
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Lung cancer – how to treat it
The most common treatment options include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Depending on the type of cancer and the stage, you may receive a combination of these treatments, according to the NHS.
It is important to bear in mind that different treatment options come with side effects.
Chemotherapy, for example, which uses powerful cancer-killing medicine to treat cancer, can cause fatigue, sickness and hair loss, notes the NHS.
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Chemotherapy can also weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to infection, adds the health site.
Lung cancer – am I at risk?
Lung cancer is strongly tied to unhealthy lifestyle decisions.
The gravest risk factor is smoking tobacco, with around seven out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking, according to Cancer Research UK.
This includes breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke or even light or occasional smoking.
As Cancer Research UK points out, your risk increases more the longer you smoke and the more you smoke so it is imperative to stop smoking sooner rather than later.
A lesser-known risk factor is air pollution.
“The risk depends on the levels of air pollution you are regularly exposed to,” explains Cancer Research UK.
Although, at UK levels, the extra risk for each person is negligible, it adds.
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