Does Lung Cancer Produce Mucus?

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The lungs protect themselves in several ways. The presence of mucus is one of these ways! So if there is something that goes awry with your lung (such as a growing tumor in the lung), the presence of mucus may be one of many body’s mechanism to help fix the problem.

For instance, a thin of layer that lines the inside of the breathing tube can trap an irritant or another bad thing that does enter into the lung. Fortunately, this irritant usually has been filtered by nose before it can touch the lungs.

About 3 ounces of mucus can be produced a day to help moist the breathing tubes every day.

The mucus in the breathing tubes of the lungs is ‘swept up’ toward the mouth by cilia (very tinny hairs that line in the breathing tubes). It will pass the gate called epiglottis, a gate that can spontaneously open to allow the mucus to be swallowed and digested in the stomach.

This mechanism is essential help maintain the normal movement of mucus up and out of the lungs. In other words, the body can absorb most of the mucus itself.

But the growth of cancer in the lung may disturb this normal movement. As a result, there will be more mucus left in the lung.

While the presence of mucus is essential to protect tissues of lungs, excess mucus in the lung can be counterproductive. If mucus collects in the lung, this can pose the risk of infections. When this has blocked the breathing tubes, you are likely to also have shortness of breath.

In patients with lung cancer, the buildups of mucus in the lung may also cause a collapsed lung. This is usually found in the stage III and IV of the disease (see more in here).

Furthermore, some factors associated with lung cancer may also contribute to trigger excess mucus in the lung. For instance, smoking is a risk factor of lung cancer – even most cases of this cancer is linked to smoking.

And smoking can contribute to cause excess mucus in the lung with the following ways:

  1. Tobacco smoke may stimulate cells that produce mucus in the lungs to grow larger, both in size and number. This can increase the amount of mucus production in the lung.
  2. The problem worsens when tobacco smoke also disturb the function of cilia (broom-like hairs to help clean your lungs). As a result, your cleaning system doesn’t work well, too! Even smoking may also decrease the number of cilia in the lungs.

About sputum testing

Some patients with lung cancer can cough up sputum (thick mucus). This sputum can be closely analyzed in a procedure called sputum testing.

The sputum can be observed under the microscope to look for any abnormal cells or cancer cells. Unfortunately, early lung cancer (when it is most likely to treat) is often not caught in sputum testing. Sputum containing cells cancer is likely to be found in patients with advanced lung cancer.

Therefore, sputum testing is not the final or not a completely reliable test. If the result of this test is negative, the finding of cancer cells can continue with other further tests.

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