How Does Lung Cancer Kill a Person?

Over time, lung cancer can lead to some serious complications. Even in fact it is the leading cause of death in patients with cancer. The high mortality rate of lung cancer is due to the high number of patients diagnosed at advanced stage of the disease. And there are many ways of how it kills a person!

Catching lung cancer early is so essential

If lung cancer is diagnosed early (before it has had a chance to grow too big or affect other parts of the body ‘metastasis’), it is relatively easier to treat. Even there is also a good chance to cure the disease (see more in here).

On the other hand, it becomes more difficult to treat if it has become advanced – and the prognosis of patient to survive is also much lower. The bad news, it is often caught lately. Even sometime it is diagnosed accidentally when patients take particular tests for other medical heath conditions.

image_illustration375The late diagnosis of the disease is one of the reasons of why the mortality rate from this cancer is very high. Even in some countries (including in the U.S), it is the leading cause of death due to cancer.

Advanced lung cancer can be life-threatening, there is only about 15 percent of patients will survive for at least 1 year. Patients with early stages of the disease have much better prognosis, about 70 percent of them can survive a year or more after the diagnosis.

In other words, it’s so crucial to catch the disease early. However, early diagnosis is not everything. It’s also important to make sure patient get and receive the most appropriate & effective treatment.

How does lung cancer kill a person?

Firstly not all cases of lung cancer end with death, though it has high mortality rate as noted before. Secondly, again it’s likely to be treatable or even curable if it is caught early.

However in fact, it often leads to death. How does it lead to death? There is no single answer of that question. Because it can kill a person for several reasons (more than one way)!

The cancer can affect the lungs seriously!

You have two lungs, and they are main parts of your respiratory system. Something that goes awry with lungs can causes some complications. Commonly, cancer in the lung causes shortness of breath (a common symptom of lung cancer, see also other symptoms).

The cancer can impair with the function of the lungs. Poor performance of the lung may affect the way of your body in getting adequate supply of oxygen, too. In severe case, this can be serious that may put you at risk of death.

The size of cancer can also be large enough to block off part of the lung. Over time, the blocked part collapses or may also get infected. The infection is not easy to treat. The body may also not be strong enough to fight this infection. Even the infection may not respond with strong antibiotics. And this eventually may kill patient.

The effect of lung cancer metastasis

As mentioned earlier, it is often diagnosed at advanced stages, when it has spread to other parts of the body. Cancer cells from the lung that spread to other areas of the body can lead to a new cancerous tumor growth called secondary cancer.

It can spread anywhere, but it is likely to spread in particular places such as liver, bones, brain, lymph nodes, and adrenal glands. A new secondary cancer from primary lung cancer can cause new complications and symptoms, depending on where it spreads to.

For instances, it can be more painful if it spread to the bones. If it has affected the liver – this can impair with the liver function, causing some complications such as jaundice (too much bile salt in the bloodstream), abnormal weight loss, and swollen tummy.

The bad news, once cancer of lung has spread to other areas of the body, it is commonly incurable and the survival rate decreases significantly. The treatments are usually more intended to help control the symptoms and slow the progression of the cancer.

It seems that lung cancer affect the body with numerous different ways which some may be the answer of how it causes a death – see more in this previous post!

Citations /references:

  1. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important
  2. https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/respiratoryfailure.html
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lung-cancer/basics/complications/con-20025531