How and What Does Lung Cancer Affect the Body?
Lung cancer is life-threatening cancer. Although there are some options to help catch it early, but in fact many cases of the disease are often diagnosed at late stages, when it is more difficult to treat. As the name implies, lungs are the main object of the disease. But over time, it also can affect other parts of the body and cause other complications.
The effect of lung cancer at its early stages on the body is not as severe as when it has become advanced. Even there is usually no early sign. Typically, the symptoms occur at advanced stages of the disease.
But in a few cases, it may also cause some early symptoms. Although they can be vogue, too! Having some of these symptoms doesn’t mean you definitely have lung cancer since they also can be attributed by other health conditions. See more about these early signs and symptoms in this section!
Shortness of breath is usually the main symptom. It can occur during the course of the disease, including when the disease is still at early stages. And there are several reasons of how this cancer can make you short of breath.
Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs) is one of the common causes to cause breathless feeling. But this is likely to occur at advanced lung cancer.
Sometime the size of lung cancer (even though at its early stages) can be large enough to put more pressure on the airways of the lungs. This can affect the air flow to the lungs. As a result, you will have breathless!
Cough (especially a persistent cough, you have it most of the time and difficult to improve) is another early sign – though it is also a vague symptom. It may also be followed with blood (hemoptysis, coughing up blood) if cancer has caused internal bleeding in the airway.
The disease may also cause other early vogue symptoms such as unintended weight loss, changes in appetite (loss of appetite), and weakness (fatigue /tiredness).
Furthermore, it can affect you emotionally. At the first time when you know that you have the disease, it is not easy to cope with the diagnosis. You tend to feel very depressed and upset, confused, or frightened. Or you may feel that it is not fair!
But don’t let your emotion take control! Stress and depression can worsen the problem. If necessary, consider taking a counseling to help keep you calm and confident to cope with!
It’s also better to completely understand about the disease and the treatment options you can take! If you are well informed, you are more able to make decisions!
It is important to diagnose this cancer early so thus patient will have better prognosis. Unfortunately, there are still many cases are advanced when the disease is first diagnosed. Therefore, it is the leading cause of death linked to cancer.
Advanced stages mean that the cancer cells have spread from the primary site (where they started in the lungs). This can spread locally, affecting the nearby structures such as into the airways, wall of chest, or pleura (membranes surrounding the lung). Or it can spread to other distinct organs.
And there will be more complications and specific symptoms that occur as the disease gets worse to its advanced stages.
Superior vena cava obstruction
The blood vessels carry blood throughout the body, including to the head. Those that carry blood go away from the heart are called arteries. And others that carry blood back to the heart are called veins.
SVC or superior vena cava is a main (large) blood vessel that carries blood back to the heart from the arms and head. It lines next to the upper part of lungs (especially right lung) and the lymph nodes inside the chest.
A cancer in /around this area (such tumor in the lung) can grow and become larger enough to cause more pressure on the SVC. As a result, there will be swelling in the upper chest, arms, neck, or even face – and this may also be followed with other symptoms such as change in consciousness, dizziness, or headaches!
It is an abnormal condition due to excessive accumulation of fluids around the lung. It can result from numerous different conditions, including such as lung cancer (especially at its advanced stage).
When a cancer affects the lungs, there is a chance for fluid to collect around the lungs (between the sheets of tissue covering the lung and the chest cavity’s lining). This can affect the way of the lungs to expand properly when you take a breath, causing shortness of breath.
Typically, the symptoms occur when the fluid accumulation is moderate or large-sized! It may also cause other symptoms such as cough, fever, or chest pain.
Metastasis of lung cancer
Like many things in cancer, lung cancer can also spread beyond the lungs and even go into the distinct organs (metastasis). Over time it can spread anywhere, but it’s likely to spread to lymph nodes, liver, bones, brain, and adrenal glands.
The following are what lung cancer can do if it has spread to other parts of the body: